Tolentino bats for ROTC Law passage amid WPS tensions 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Francis Tolentino speaking at the ROTC Games Visayas Qualifying Leg opening on Sunday.*Francis Tolentino FB page photo 

As the repeated tensions in the West Philippine Sea continue to simmer, newly installed Senate Majority Floor leader Francis Tolentino is confident his bill seeking to revive the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) for Filipino students will soon be signed into law. 

Speaking before the ROTC Games Visayas Qualifying Leg at the Panaad Park and Sports Stadium in Bacolod City on Sunday, May 26, Tolentino, a Brigadier General in the military reserves, reiterated that the ROTC program can very well serve its part in the country’s national defense program while instilling a deep sense of patriotism, nationalism, and discipline among the youth. 

“ROTC is an effective way to foster teamwork, discipline, and patriotism, potent tools which can effectively hone productive citizens and future leaders of our country,” Tolentino explained. 

Tolentino’s Senate Bill 1565 seeks to establish a mandatory two-year Basic Military and Police Training program for students in college. 

Exempted from Tolentino’s measure are varsity players, individuals deemed psychologically or physically unfit by certified military or police medical officers, as well as those considered to be exempted from training by the Defense Department or the Department of Interior and Local Government. 

Tolentino’s proposal explicitly prohibits acts such as emotional maltreatment, psychological and verbal abuse, bribery, and hazing. 

Students who opt out of the program will not be able to graduate. 

ROTC in the Philippines began in 1912. It was scrapped in 2002 after Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act (NSTP) of 2001 was enacted in response to the call to change the ROTC program. 

The ROTC games started in December 2022 with the support of the AFP, CHED, and other relevant government institutions. Tolentino is the ROTC Game’s Honorary Chairman. 

Close to 2,000 athletes from the Western, Central and Eastern Visayas  are participating in the ROTC games that began Sunday hosted by Bacolod City, together with the neighboring cities of Talisay and Victorias.

School cadets from the Philippine Army, Air Force, and Navy will compete in swimming, raiders competition, obstacle course race, target shooting, 5×5 basketball, athletics, arnis, boxing, chess, esports, kickboxing, sepak takraw, table tennis, taekwondo, and volleyball. 

“This event is not merely a showcase of athletic prowess; it is a celebration of discipline, unity, and the spirit of patriotism that courses through the veins of our nation’s youth,” Tolentino said. 

“The impact of the Philippine ROTC Games on our youth and our country is multifaceted. For our youth, these games are a training ground for leadership, teamwork, and perseverance. They learn to push their limits, to rise above challenges, and to support their comrades— qualities that are essential for their personal growth and for their roles as future leaders of our nation,” he added.* 

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