(Photo courtesy of PLM Reserve Officers' Training Corps 2022-2023 Facebook page)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. clarified that the proposed enhanced Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program would allow trainees to beef up their resilience and character -- qualities that are believed to foster good mental health.

The DND chief made this clarification Monday night after some reports claimed that ROTC would help "cure" or address mental health issues.

"We have learned of the sensitivities raised by our mental health practitioners and advocates on what they believe is the improper use at the Senate hearing on Monday, February 6, of the word 'cure' for mental health issues," Galvez said.

The DND chief said they understood and appreciated the concerns of these groups as mental health is an issue that affects the broadest spectrum of society.

"What we intended to convey during the hearing was that through our enhanced ROTC program, we would be able to build the strength of character and resilience of our trainees, qualities which positively foster mental health," Galvez said.

He also added that the ROTC program also aims to develop among the trainees the basic psychosocial support competencies that are crucial in responding to stressful situations and contexts.

Galvez stressed that the ROTC program they envisioned in the DND includes courses that are specifically designed to foster resilience, self-leadership, character-building and discipline.

"We believe these are virtues that our trainees must cultivate not only for their personal growth and development as individuals, but more importantly, enable them to play a key role in building a just, humane and democratic society," he added.

Galvez also assured the public that DND leadership shall carefully take into account the spirit of Republic Act 11036 (Mental Health Act of 2018) and the issues raised by our mental health experts in the crafting of the ROTC training program.

77 new senior AFP officers take oath

After a hiatus of three years brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the DND announced that 77 newly appointed and promoted Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) generals and flag officers took their oath before President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at Malacañan Palace.

Taking their oath before the chief executive and commander in chief is one of the most important traditions of the AFP, DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

"President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. administered the oath of office to 77 senior officers of the AFP on Monday, 6 February 2023 -- the first time the ceremony was undertaken since he was elected to office," he added.

The President congratulated the newly promoted officers and reminded them of "the new mission that our Armed Forces has to face in this day and age."

The Chief Executive also emphasized the AFP's crucial role in protecting the country's interests amid the complex security landscape "That is why it is up to us to make sure that we know very well how to use the tools that are given us to the best effect for the national interest," Marcos added.

Among the officers who took their oath are Lt.Gen. Arthur M. Cordura, vice chief of staff of the AFP; Lt. Gen. Rowen S. Tolentino, superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy; Vice Admiral Toribio D. Adaci Jr., Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy; Lt. Gen. Stephen P. Parreño, commanding general of the Philippine Air Force; and Lt. Gen. Efren P. Baluyot, commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, and others.

"The act of taking our oath is a spiritual and emotional commitment to do our duty, render service to our nation and people, and uphold the supremacy of civilian authority over the military," Galvez stated.

He added that this ceremony headed by the commander in chief is a testament to the respect and full support of the national leadership for the AFP.

"We are grateful to the President for the importance that he gave to this milestone in the selfless service of the defenders of our republic as well as to their families, who also endure the hardships and sacrifice that every one of our soldiers faces when they risk their lives for our country and people," he added. (PNA)