BACK in the days, there was Citizens Army Training or CAT of which I earned the rank of Staff Sergeant of the Model Platoon. I was a senior student at the then Baguio City High School and the CAT was a mandatory training that must be a preparatory program for ROTC. Well, that was in the late 70s and I wore white gloves, an MP red arm band and a truncheon on my side as we were supposed to help maintain peace and order at the school premises. What I liked most was the green beret that I often use outside the school and the tangerine neckerchief that we wrapped around our necks and partly covered by our collars. There was of course a recruitment and selection process that included duck-walks, push-ups, crawling on mud and swallowing the Labuyo type of chilli. We had drills even under the rains which I believe was part of an initiation that only those who completed the challenge or survived the physical tests would earn ranks of a Corporal up to Company Commander. Our classmate who bestowed the loudest command voice earned the top rank in our class.
During my college days as a student at the oldest catholic university, I spent four straight semesters at the UST parade ground braving the blistering heat for our Reserve Officers Training Corps. ROTC was a mandatory training for college students and I earned a Military Science Certificate for having finished four units for MS11a, MS11b, MS12a and MS12b. Our Sunday morning usually starts with a mass officiated by a Chaplain, followed by messages and briefings from a ranking officer from the Philippine Constable or PC. Aside from the usual brigade formation, there were company and platoon briefings and lecture on military sciences. The more interesting parts of our training was the dismantling, assembling and firing of the M1 Garand rifle that was named after John C. Garand who created the semi-automatic rifle that was widely used by the US Army and US Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean War.
The M1 was heavy and its recoil or back thrust was more forceful compared to the more modern Armalite rifle used by the Youth Action Development Organization or YADO by the students of Far Eastern University.
Today, decades after ROTC was scrapped, there is a barrage or netizen's reaction on whether it should be revived or not. Well for me, I go with the idea that it can be looped with the curricula of Grades 11 and 12 so that graduates of the K-to-12 program can have the opportunity to pursue a career in the varied peacekeeping services.
At present, under the Duterte administration, there are moves to once and for all eradicate or end the communist insurgency following the whole of nation approach. Considering that national security is one of the most vital concerns that must be addressed by the government, President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2018 created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF LCAC directing the adoption of a national peace framework.
Under the EO, the task force is mandated to provide an efficient mechanism structure for the implementation of a "whole-of-nation" approach, which was likewise institutionalized as a government policy for the attainment of inclusive and sustainable peace. With the proposed resumption of the ROTC program and recruitment of younger advocates for peace, I believe that a new and redefined trainings for future non commissioned reservists can bolster and reinforce the campaign against insurgency.
Having observed the machinations, strategies and black propaganda of the communist enemies of the state, I believe that part of the things to be strengthened as a counter measure is to inculcate and win the hearts and minds of new ROTC recruits that government is sincere in bringing peace and development to uplift the lives of every Filipino. Yes, the ROTC program can also be tapped and maximized not only to counter insurgency, promote peace, help in civic activities but also for social engineering and economic growth.