By Danielle Chua & Raymond Carl Gato 

What is ROTC?

If there are three words which can fully encompass the definition of Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), it will be: defense, preparation, and nation. 

ROTC is primarily defined as a military-allied program that is propounded in various universities and colleges, whether international or local. According to Moody (2020), it equips students with military trainings as they earn their respective degrees. To be more specific, this program is inclined to prepare them to serve the country.

In the local setup, ROTC is legally articulated in Sections 38-39 of the Republic Act No. 7077, which is also known as the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act of 1991. It is also said to be in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the National Defense Act. 

The five basic learnings and competencies in ROTC are lead, shoot, move, navigate, and communicate, in line with the Department of Military Science and Tactics of University of the Philippines Diliman (2020).

Considering its goal to strengthen the national defense of the Philippines, it is indeed perfect in picture. The former mismanagement and the currently planned mandate of the said program, however, are something to be alarmed of.

We need more military power, pro-ROTC Filipinos say

The decades-long civil war between the Philippine military troops and terrorists in the Southern part of the archipelago urges many to support the mandatory ROTC to senior high school and college students. 


A 2019 Pulse Asia survey on Filipinos showed that 1,440 out of 1,800 are in favor of the implementation of ROTC. Meanwhile, 207 respondents disagreed with the proposal.

Geopolitical tension between Philippines and China, as well, instills fear of war rooting the highly-contested West Philippine Sea. The World Bank Data records Beijing’s value of active military personnels at 2,695,000 in 2018, as Manila fell short with 153,350.

Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense (DND) expressed support to the Mandatory ROTC following vice presidential aspirant Sara Duterte’s calls for obligatory military service of Filipinos 18 and above.

"We in the DND support the mandatory military service of 18-year-old Filipinos. There are several advantages: First, the military will have a ready and steady trained pool of reservists to defend the country and do HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) work; second, the training and discipline that they will acquire will make them better citizens; third, service to the country will be inculcated in them," says Lorenzana.

Issues surrounding the mandatory program

The supposed mandatory program was made compulsory after a student of University of Santo Tomas (UST) Mark Chua was kidnapped and killed for exposing corruption behind the ROTC.

Chua with his fellow cadet, Romulo Yumul, disclosed ROTC anomalies on The Varsitarian titled “Struggle Against the System” in its Feb. 21, 2001 issue.

Chua and Yumul formally filed a complaint against corruption surrounding the UST-ROTC, a ground for the relief of Maj. Demy Tejares.

Mark Chua was found lifeless in Pasig River on March 18, 2001 after the story was published. In 2004, ROTC cadet Arnufo Aparri Jr. was found guilty of killing Chua.

Ever since, college students were free to choose between ROTC, Literary Training, and Civil Welfare Training System through the Republic Act 9163, or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001.

Opposition solons resist proposals of reviving the mandatory ROTC as it will “violate their constitutional right,” add expenses to parents and students by buying costly uniforms, and “only teaches obedience to abusive ROTC officials.”