Senatorial bet retired Gen. Guillermo Eleazar with three of his staunch supporters at his campaign headquarters in Makati City (Photo supplied)
By Tracy Cabrera
MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA — Rather than imposing the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as part of the college curriculum, government should prioritize instead the continuity of the modernization program of the military and police in order for the Philippines to be prepared for a possible scenario similar to what Ukraine has experienced with an unprovoked Russian invasion.
This was the opinion of Partido Reporma senatorial candidate and former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief retired Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who cited a recent a statement from local nationalist group Atin Ang Pinas (AAP) that accused China of emulating Russian techniques in its illegal incursions into Philippine maritime territories.
In reaction, the senatorial aspirant had urged the country’s military, particularly the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), to closely monitor all activities by foreign vessels, particularly that of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Chinese coast guard, that could jeopardize our country’s territorial integrity.
According to AAP co-convenor Amber Quimban, although China is using different tactics, it still somehow mirrors similar tactics used by the Russians in Ukraine to further encroach on Philippine territories and flaunt its threats against Taiwan.
“While Russia plants its nationals in Ukrainian soil to instigate and hasten the unrest and calls for secession, China has been building islands in the West Philippine Sea to ‘legitimize’ its claims over the territory that was already awarded to us by the decision of The Hague,” Quiban noted to protest China’s so-called expansionist policies.
And in agreement with the nationalist group, Eleazar thinks that improving the capability of the AFP and PNP will better address hostile nations if they decide to invade our country.
“Sa ngayon, we don’t have the facilities, we don’t have the capabilities to do that kaya sa tingin ko ay mas mainam na hayaan na muna natin na ma-improve ang existing armed forces which is the AFP and the PNP,” the country’s former PNP chief noted to clarify that he will not support calls to remove optional ROTC in the National Service Training Program (NSTP) of college students.
“(ROTC) is important in training the youth for national defense preparedness.(Pero) ang reality kasi, ito iyong nakita natin sa Ukraine na dapat ay nakahanda rin tayo sa mga ganitong bagay. Pero bago ang mga bata, mas may sense kung ang uunahin ay ang pagpapalakas ng kapabilidad ng ating AFP at PNP dahil sila ang nasa frontlines kung sakaling mangyari ang ganoong sitwasyon sa atin tulad ng sa Ukraine,” he added.
The AFP is now on the second phase or ‘horizon’ of the revised modernization program where President Duterte allotted about P300 billion for the procurement of various military assets and upgrading of the troops’ capabilities.
Calls for the reinstitution of the mandatory ROTC in the Philippines for students who will reach the legal age of 18 years old was again floated when Russia made a full-blown military invasion in Ukraine last month. However, the Department of National Defense previously said that this will be hard to implement since there are no adequate facilities for the training of the youth, and it will require manpower and funds to accommodate all individuals who will reach the age of 18 every year.