Philippine Army commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

MANILA – Philippine Army (PA) commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. vowed to expand the Officer Candidate Course-Reserve Officer Training Corps (OCC-ROTC), after 24 of its members completed the eight-month course.

In a statement late Monday, Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said this is a first for the OCC-ROTC program.

"The Army chief also emphasized the Army leadership's commitment to push-down resources to ground forces nationwide," Trinidad said.

With this development, Brawner said the Army will expand the OCC-ROTC program in the years ahead, in line with the thrust of incoming nation's leaders to strengthen the ROTC program in higher educational institutions.

“Always strive for excellence,” Brawner advised the newly-minted Army officers, reiterating his command guidance “SERVE” (Soldiers, Enhance, Resources, Victory, Election) to the new officers during the reception dinner held at the PA Officers Club in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last Sunday.

Brawner also called on the incoming second lieutenants to take care of their troops’ physical and mental health and to enhance the troops' individual skills and unit capabilities.

He said these thrusts will capacitate the organization to emerge victorious against threat groups and state enemies and to excellently perform the Army's core mission to serve the people and secure the land.

On Monday, Vice President-elect and incoming education secretary Sara Duterte expressed hope that the implementation of a mandatory ROTC will be included in the legislative agenda of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (PNA)