Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps' Military Training

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During the second world war, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) was a well-established program by the government to prepare the Filipino youth to become part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Reserve Force (Tongol et al., 2018). The bill has a long way to go, however, in this generation, the proposal is the toughest and probably the most critical challenge regarding the ROTC issue since it faces opinions and reasons why ROTC should be abolished or reinstated. Many of the young people are now complaining about the restoration of the ROTC program as compulsory. The program faces opposition from advocates of children’s rights who claim that ROTC teaches students “brutality, fascism, corruption, and impunity” (Ramos & Sambalud, 2018). Everyone is concerned about what happened in the past decade. In recent history, the United States has faced several distinct leadership challenges in the forms of foreign political unrest, internal financial instability, and general domestic turmoil existing in tandem with war and conflict (Panetta, 2012). Comment by Allister Johnny: Check din ‘to

Also, the US Army faced notable internal leadership challenges, like suicide rates present in their ranks and cases of sexual harassment. Still, almost no research has been done assessing how successful the existing military leader development techniques (Campbell, 2017). Even though that young leaders need to have the ability or skill to understand their surroundings to see the whole battlefield from all directions (Johnson, 2002, p.2), due to lack of research related to ROTC at the time (Dugan & Komives, 2010), there is lacking information in our understanding of the process of the personal development of these young leaders.

One problem that emerged while researchers focused on leadership skills is their inattention towards understanding the development of ‘how one thinks of oneself as a leader (Muir, 2011, p.17).

As Ozer (2004) points out, constructivism is an educational approach with its central concept based on the assumption that individuals are better able to understand and process information constructed through interaction with the environment. One example of how the approach of constructivism is utilized occurs through the process of leader development. The approach here includes how one communicates their culture using communication as well as how learners socialize and cooperate. The approach helps learners learn from one another, especially in terms of how to lead others. Eventually, learners will find their style of leadership after learning and observing others.

Youth, as early as they can understand, should be educated in terms of leading our country for them to develop physically, mentally, and morally, to assure that they can be entrusted with the highest level of leadership. The main goal of the ROTC program is to prepare and train students for commissioning as officers in the army or its reserve. It also helps students develop their abilities and improve their character, which will make them successful in their academics as well as become accomplished junior officers (Georgia Tech, n.d.). Comment by Allister Johnny: Check citation

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program aims to train military skills and discipline. But some people cannot undergo these kinds of training for reasons such as being physically handicapped or recommended by a doctor to not experience the said training. There is now a discussion about ROTC present on social media sites, where it mentioned that the program was made mandatory. The belief of the program instilling patriotism and discipline among the students was a deciding factor in the said decision.

President Rodrigo said that the mandatory ROTC program in senior high school could help the Filipino youth develop and deepen national love and promote good citizenship. According to the 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES ARTICLE II SECTION XIII, the State recognizes the vital role played by young people in the country’s development; hence, the State promotes and protects the youth’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social welfare. The patriotism and nationalism of the young people will be inspired, and their engagement in public and civic activities will be encouraged.

Pinol (2017) said that the new president approved the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Defense Secretary Lorenzana also recorded documents on RA 7077 or “Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act” to be compulsory for ROTC. Before President Rodrigo Duterte’s authorization, there will be cabinet meetings, in-depth analysis, and transformation. Filipino youth can defend and protect our country through the ROTC program.

Padilla (2017) mentioned that when the youth understands the reason why they are training, they will begin to learn skills like first aid and self-defense.

In 1991, congress passed RA 7077, ‘The Citizen Armed Forces Philippines Reservist Act.’ Sections 38 and 39 of this law have mandated two years of basic military training for all college students, while advanced military education programming is voluntary for another two years. The underlying ideology of these practices is the belief in the role of both citizens and soldiers of the Philippines, the intellectual and the political guardians of democracy to the Philippine society.

The Philippine Star (2016) said that one of the reasons for ROTC’s revival is the conflict where China asserted dominion over the Western Philippine Sea. Also, regarding the ROTC revival, if it becomes compulsory for senior high school students, the program will train them to become officers who can be relied on by the government to defer any occupation in the country immediately. It further shows the importance of the Yolanda super typhoon in the region of Visayas, where many have died and destroyed property. In this situation, the ROTC cadets can help save and deliver aid to the victims of disasters.

Overall, we see that not only does the nation benefit from the program, but we also learn defense and how to discipline ourselves.

The revival of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) will bring back benefits and advantages to the SHS students, focusing on their leadership development, physical fitness, patriotism, and emotional intelligence. One of its importance is to instill patriotism in the young minds of the youth, helping them develop the mindset of what a Filipino citizen should have to defend and serve their country. Recently, there have been 14 bills passed to Congress requesting the revival of ROTC. The Department of National Defense will handle the reimplementation, which the current President favors and supports.

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Henshaw (2003) focused on a study of the cultural influences new cadets experienced as they faced their first phase in Military Education. He noted that new learners tend to gain self-confidence as they start from having little to no background to slowly acquiring the skills and leadership that gave them the confidence to accomplish tasks assigned to them. The method is one of the various learning techniques a person can learn, along with active learning and interactive learning (McCarthy, 2016).

Another benefit of it is emotional intelligence. A person can control his/her thoughts and emotions; having a powerful mindset helps in handling personal relationships with others better. Howard Gardner, an influential Harvard theorist, defined emotional intelligence as the mastery of your ability to comprehend people as well as recognizing their motivations and identifying how you can work cooperatively with others. Knowing one’s capability, capacity, and limits may help them work with others better and create harmonious work.

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), despite its many benefits, has a multitude of disadvantages and holes in its provision. During the previous implementation of the mandatory ROTC, there were various incidents of violence against students in the forms of physical, emotional as well as psychological abuses, which led to some deaths (Change, n.d.). In 2014, a female cadet officer of ROTC from Polytechnic University of the Philippines was a victim of alleged hazing incidents by two senior cadet officers (ABS-CBN News, 2014). In the year when the first hazing victim was reported, hazing or initiation rites of fraternities and training institutions since 1954 resulted in at least 31 deaths (ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, 2017). Comment by Allister Johnny: Review the citation

One of the factors that will relate to different forms of hazing is group thinking. It is the collective actions of reckless behavior from a psychological perspective. A research psychologist at Yale University named Irving Janis defined group thinking as something that happens when groups make wrong decisions due to group pressures, leading to the decay of mental competence and moral judgment. He explained that only some particular groups are prone to group thinking, which leads them to ignore the outcomes of their illogical actions (Manzanedo, 2013).

Another example of the numerous cases of violence by the program can be found in Panay News (2019) as it mentioned that a freshman student from the Iloilo State College of Fisheries died due to being bludgeoned by the program’s commander. A non-government organization promoting children’s rights accused the program’s history of violence of the student’s death.

Another argument brings up the program’s culture of corruption, which was revealed in the past like bribery to escape training but still receive a passing grade, acquisition of suspicious donations, and the like (Change, n.d.). This issue led to Mark Chua’s death in 2002, where he revealed in the story titled ‘Struggle Against the System,” his formal complaint against Maj. Demy Tejares, the commandant of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) ROTC unit, and other Department of Military Science and Tactics officials (Penera & Suarez, 2018). Comment by Allister Johnny: Check citation again

The negative effects of anxiety are also an issue. The reported studies in a military environment, an increase of stress from risky task or missions, troubles in interaction with companions and to those who have a higher rank, sleep deprivation from shift work, the demand for physical fitness, deployment and separation from family, and additional noncombat work assignments such as disaster solace, peacekeeping, and other humanitarian actions emphasizes where stress originates from, which causes anxiety that can broadly affect the life and functioning of the students. The element of risk is still present that can lead students to have anxiety towards military training (Breivik et al., 2019).

Student Caffé (2019) also mentioned that ROTC increases the responsibilities of the students. Students will have to comply with the mandatory classes of the program as well as their academic subjects, which will be tiring on their part. Tan (2016) of the Philippine Daily Inquirer also stated that ROTC training takes place on Saturday afternoons wherein four semesters would take around 200 hours of their weekend, so students like him would sneak in calculus books to study since there’s no time for them to focus on their academics during their weekends.

Despite the praise and reported benefits, some criticize the program. The Philippines Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) even performed a study that presented evidence and information regarding the unpreparedness of some schools to accommodate numerous courses and strands under the said program (Punongbayan, 2019).

According to Basilio (2019), the Philippine government should focus more on addressing the lack of classrooms and books, which has been our continuing problem. These are the necessities of the students that weren’t fulfilled due to insufficient funds provided for the education sector. He even stressed the fact of why we are providing funds for something entirely new when the actual needs of Filipino students in education have not been granted. There are other means for developing the Filipino youth’s love for the Philippines, like improving the curriculum on Philippine history. Educating students on how to use a gun will never strengthen nor show their love for their motherland.

The Kabataan party-list even mentioned in an argument that making the ROTC program mandatory again would only violate the rights of the students.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago (2016) said that they do not approve of the belief that ROTC could instill discipline as well as patriotism to students, given the program’s history. She added that because of this, they believe that ROTC should not be compulsory.           

The group also said that implementing military training must not be the duty of noncombatant educational institutes. So, the group requests for House Bill 2399 or the ROTC Abolition Act of 2016 as the program has only become a breeding ground for abuses against students (ABS-CBN NEWS, 2016-b).

Ineffective leadership can result from a lack of experience. Some qualified leaders assume their roles too quickly in their vocations, which leads them to perform their duty poorly. At times, they never seek chances where they can improve their learning and develop further (Education Review Office, n.d.). The authoritative role of the military in the ROTC program prevents school officials to freely exercise their right to create and inaugurate their school programs. It also prevents teachers from choosing their teaching methods on how to educate their students. The potential of the program to train students to blindly follow authority contradicts the school’s purpose of helping the youth practice critical thinking. Also, the risk that the government would use the ROTC programs to access schools, check and control those they see as possible enemies of the government is probable, especially with the police suspecting schools as a safe place for government enemies to hide (Change, n.d.). Comment by Allister Johnny: Also check citation

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