KAWAL ATENISTA. Senator Jinggoy Estrada (extreme left) administers the oath of the Kawal Atenista Alumni Association Inc. officers and board of Trustees on Saturday (March 25, 2023) at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City. The group is pushing for the revival of the mandatory reserve officers' training corps. (PNA photo by Che Palicte)

DAVAO CITY – A group consisting of former Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) officials of the Ateneo de Davao University is pushing for the revival of the program for all college students.

Jose Agduma II, chairperson of the Kawal Atenista Alumni Association, Inc. (KAAAI), said the group's call for the revival of mandatory ROTC aims to instill patriotism, mental and physical soundness, rectitude, and discipline among the youth.

“This is the time for us to regroup and share what we have learned in ROTC because it is not a failure (program). Its products are very successful, and very timely for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to push through with the mandatory ROTC,” Agduma said in a press briefing here on Saturday.

He said that through cooperation and a genuine desire to bring positive change to the community, all the members of KAAAI have worked together to realize the organization's mission.

Dinagat Island Governor Nilo Demerey Jr., one of the KAAAI board of trustees, said he is one of the ardent exponents of the ROTC’s revival.

“This will be our defense because, for the past 22 years, we have not produced people that would protect this country,” Demerey said.        
He said the National Service Training Program (NSTP) law "is a clear violation of the Constitution," as it sidelined ROTC to be optional rather than mandatory.

“This is the prime obligation of every Filipino, to defend our country at any cost. We do not have enough soldiers to fight,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, in a speech during the event, emphasized the need to teach younger generations about the "essence of patriotism, to prepare and mold them to become disciplined and respectful Filipino citizens."

“When I filed Senate Bill 468, the proposed revitalized ROTC Act, I emphasized the need to provide our Filipino youth with the necessary skills not only in the military aspect but more importantly in disaster preparedness and response to calamities,” he said.

He noted that discipline and proper attitude that the training imbibes in the students are also part of the life skills that will be helpful to them in all aspects of their lives.

“The government will be able to organize and maintain a pool of capable reservists trained to respond to the exigencies not just of hostilities but also in times of crisis, calamities, and other contingencies at the national and local levels,” Estrada said.

For his part, Senator Ronald dela Rosa said in the same forum that he remains optimistic that the mandatory ROTC bill he earlier filed can surmount challenges.

“It is not easy, in the Senate, there are still those who were anti-ROTC. We cannot blame them, and we respect their stand in the matter. But then again, we are trying to convince them to vote for that law,” he said.

Dela Rosa said the status in the Senate on the proposition might be 50-50 percent, but hopes the bill can gain traction in the coming months.

“I am very optimistic [for the approval] because this is considered as the priority bill of the President,” he said. (PNA)