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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 29, 2016
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Call the reserve


During his SONA President Duterte said that he will call on the reservists and the ROTC to help in his campaign against illegal drugs. I presume this will include the retired officers and men of the AFP and probably those from the PNP because normally the retirees are listed among the reserves of the AFP. I don't know if this is also done with the PNP once they retire. For the AFP the reserves are mainly the first to be called to duty, starting from the youngest of them.

The reservists and the ROTC comprise a huge pool of human resources. In other countries the government calls on them in cases of national emergency, like mobilizing them for the war or critical periods of the nation's history. In other cases they are mustered to assist their counterparts for certain duties as I think the president has in mind fighting illegal drugs.

Once an ROTC cadet graduates either from the basic or from the advance or officer's course, they are placed on reserve, inactive status. However, occasionally they are called to duty, most often to retrain for advancement in rank or just to keep them trimmed or rehearsed for immediate deployment.

The mustering of the reserves for the illegal drugs trade means calling them to active status. I don't know how this will be done, but it is a step in the right direction. They need not be quartered but called to duty and perform within their barangays and return home. In this case they can receive uniform and travel allowance. Whatever the system to be adopted the fact is that they are ready to be called to duty.

I remember sometime in 1965 when the traffic problem in Bacolod got the ire of the late Mayor Romeo Guanzon. There were few vehicles then but we did have traffic problems because the streets were narrow and few. We also had fewer policemen. At the time the police was directly under the mayor not of any national agency unless they are placed under Philippine Constabulary control under certain situations, like failure to curb criminality or abuse by the police force itself.

Mayor Guanzon asked for help from the ROTC who were placed under the command and direction of reserve officers. They did a good job, very strict in fact that they gave tickets to drivers who smoked while driving. They were strict and the drivers got disciplined.

It is unfortunate that ROTC was made voluntary and we lost a mechanism to instill discipline and patriotism in the young. Politicians wanting to gain points with the youth sacrificed the nation's welfare for political gain. Now President Duterte wants to bring ROTC back.

There had been attempts in previous Congresses to right the wrong but again politics intervened and we lost a huge reservoir of reservists for the different branches of the Armed Forces.

Sure there are still colleges and universities that offer ROTC but most of the young people opt for the easy National Service course that cannot match the discipline and mental training of an ROTC cadet. Reinstating ROTC as mandatory for all students in the first two years in college or when they reach 18 years of age will be good for the country and the youth.

ROTC can train the young to be reserve units of the police, the army, the navy or the air force as was done in the past. Even now ROTC cadets serve in various duties. We see them on several occasions.

But if Congress revives the mandatory ROTC training as mandated by the Constitution, it must also correct many ills that plaque the course that have led to the public demand for its abolition.

The training of the youth for military service is the duty of the state so cadets should not shoulder the cost of their training. The ROTC fees, for instance should be pegged, not computed at rate fee like academic subjects. Their respective armed services should provide the weaponry for training and subsidies.

In the last years of the ROTC course the cadets completed two years training without handling a gun, only wooden rifles. This is not supposed to be but there was corruption within the command. I even exposed one regional commander who gave quotas to the wives of ROTC commandants for the sale of herbal medicines.

It's time to organize our reserves and tap their expertise.*



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