17may14-Bring back ROTC after reforming it

POSTSCRIPT / May 14, 2017 / Sunday
Bring back ROTC after reforming it
By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

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GOD forbid, but if war breaks out, how will our under-equipped 310,000+ soldiers and policemen, reinforced by our token air force and navy defend the country against invaders?

A force-multiplier would be a citizens’ army or a reservist system envisioned in Article II, Section 4, which says: “The Government may call upon the people to defend the State and… all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military or civil service.”

In a national mobilization, do we simply gather all able-bodied men and hand them rifles and bullets (assuming we have enough to pass around) and attach them to regular military units after a hurried pep talk?

Sorry for that rather crude characterization of a hypothetical emergency, but what else are we prepared to do quickly?

One of the things we must do BEFORE the shooting starts is – as proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte — restore in the curriculum the mandatory military training of qualified youths and the conscription of physically fit out-of-school citizens.

The military training of college students can be given impetus by a reformed basic/advance Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, whose revival President Duterte has been pushing. (Another advocate of ROTC is PhilStar columnist Bobit S. Avila.).

After mentioning terrorism and the drug problem in his speech at the recent 60th Palarong Pambansa in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, the President disclosed again his plan to include mandatory military training in the curriculum.

It so happened that last Friday, May 12, was the 25th anniversary of the reactivation of theArmy Reserve Command whose mission is to “maintain, administer, develop, train, and organize reservist units to help enhance national security and development.”

No longer mandatory, ROTC is now only one of three options under the National Service Training Program. The other options are civic welfare training service and literacy training service.

The President said the scrapping of ROTC because of cases of fatal hazing and some anomalies was “very shortsighted.” Students should “go back” to ROTC, he added, and at least learn how to handle weapons in the defense of the country.

• ‘Hunters ROTC’ as guerrilla unit

AFTER the Philippines fell to Japanese invaders in May 1942, guerrilla forces sprang up all over the islands to continue the resistance, among them surviving Filipino-American units, local armed groups, and the “Hunters ROTC” consisting of undergraduate cadets.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, seeing how the guerrillas fought Japanese occupation forces until he returned in October 1944 to liberate the islands, was so impressed by their grit and gallantry that he declared: “Give me ten thousand Filipinos and I shall conquer the world!”

In supporting President Duterte’s plan to return mandatory ROTC training for qualified youths, I speak from personal experience. I know how it helps mold one’s body, mind and character.

Counting academics aside, my being a UPROTC cadet officer was one of the two major influences in my life on the Diliman campus, the other one being the enriching of my faith as member of the UP Student Catholic Action.

Among the things that ROTC develops in the trainee are Discipline and Loyalty, which refine a person’s character and define his constructive role as a member of a team, and as a citizen.

We imbibed Elbert Hubbard’s “Loyalty” (“If you work for a man, in heaven’s name work for him, speak well of him.…”) that loomed large at the entrance of the DMST building that also housed our officers’ quarters in front of which we would fall into formation every morning, for inspection and exercise.

Such seemingly tedious drills as snappily obeying orders to “march” or “halt” without thinking prepared one for life-and-death settings. Imagine what would happen if a soldier in a battle situation has to debate first with himself whether or not to obey an order of his squad leader.

Among the many other things that ROTC taught me is the handling of firearms, especially marksmanship. I look back with satisfaction to my days as reporter of the pre-martial rule Manila Times, when I won as a gun club member a number of medals for precision shooting in inter-media competitions.

Someday I will write more of those Diliman days with the UP Vanguard and the UPSCA.

• Alert out on a new hotel scam

AN ALERT on a new hotel scam is shared by Angel Javier of GMA-7 and Liza Carreon of Tuesday Club of PR-media practitioners:

You arrive at your hotel and check in at the front desk. Typically, you give your credit card (for any charges to your room) and they don’t retain the card. You go to your room and settle in. All is good.

Later, the hotel receives a call and the caller asks for (as an example) Room 620 — which happens to be yours. The phone rings in your room. You answer and the caller says:

“This is the front desk. When checking in, we came across a problem with your charge card information. Please re-read me your credit card number and verify the last 3 digits/numbers at the reverse side of your charge card.”

Not sensing anything wrong, since the call seems to have come from the front desk, you oblige. But actually, it is a scam by someone calling from outside the hotel. They have asked for a random room number, then ask you for your credit card and address information. They sound so professional that you think you are talking to the front desk.

If you encounter this scenario, tell the caller that you will be down to the front desk to clear up any problem. Then, go to the front desk or call directly and ask if there was a problem.

If there was none, inform the hotel manager that someone tried to scam you of your credit card information, acting like a front desk employee.

(First published in The Philippine STAR of May 14, 2017)

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