Philippine Reserve Officer Training Corps

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A soldier of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment of the Philippine Army instructs an ROTC cadet officer on the finer points of the M16 rifle

Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) in the Philippines is one of three components of the National Service Training Program, the civic education and defense preparedness program for Filipino college students.[1] ROTC aims to provide military education and training for students to mobilize them for national defense preparedness.[2] Its specific objectives include preparation of college students for service in the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the event of an emergency and their training to become reservists and potential commissioned officers of the AFP.

Graduates of the ROTC advance program serve in all branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In 2008, ROTC graduates of the officer candidate schools of the various services constituted roughly 75% of the AFP officer corps.[3] The ROTC grants qualified student-cadets scholarship benefits through a merit-based incentive program in return for an obligation of military service in the reserve force, or active duty in the AFP if given the opportunity, after graduation.

ROTC student-cadets attend college like other students, but also receive basic military training and officer training from the branch of service that handles their school's ROTC unit. The students participate in regular ROTC instruction during the school year (one school year for Basic ROTC student-cadets and three school years for Advance ROTC cadet-officers), and extended training activities during the summer, such as the ROTC Summer Camp Training (RSCT) and the Advance ROTC Academic Phase Training (ARAPT).

ROTC units in colleges and universities are organized through the Department of Military Science and Tactics (DMST) which is under joint supervision by the school administration and the Department of National Defense. These ROTC units are in turn managed by active duty officers of the AFP and the reservist organization representatives of the major services, the Philippine Army Reserve Command of the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy Reserve Command of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force Reserve Command of the Philippine Air Force.


Commonwealth Act No. 1, the National Defense Act of 1935, referred to the ROTC as the "Reserve Officers Training Corps",[4] whereas Republic Act No. 7077, the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act of 1991, referred to the ROTC as the "Reserve Officers' Training Corps",[5] ascribing the possessive form to the word "officers". Republic Act No. 9163, the National Service Training Program Act of 2001 likewise uses the same possessive form as RA 7077.[1]


ROTC in the Philippines began in 1912 when the Philippine Constabulary commenced with military instruction at the University of the Philippines. The university's Board of Regents then made representations to the United States Department of War through the Governor-General and received the services of a United States Army officer who took on the duties of a professor of Military Science. Through this arrangement, the first official ROTC unit in the Philippines was established in the University of the Philippines on 3 July 1922.[6]

In 1921, National University became the first private college in the Philippines to have an ROTC unit. Later in the same year, Ateneo de Manila University, Liceo de Manila, and Colegio de San Juan de Letran soon followed suit and organized their own respective ROTC units. In 1936, the Office of the Superintendent for ROTC Units under the Philippine Army was activated to supervise all ROTC units in the country.[6]

National Defense Act of 1935

President Manuel Quezon controlled the National Assembly which enacted the National Defense Act of 1935
President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1706 in 1980
President Corazon Aquino signed Republic Act 7077 into law in 1991
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9163 into law in 2002

President Manuel L. Quezon issued Executive Order No. 207 in 1939 in order to implement the National Defense Act of 1935, otherwise known as Commonwealth Act No. 1,[4] the embodiment of the national defense plan formulated by General Douglas MacArthur for the Philippine Commonwealth. This executive order made ROTC obligatory at all colleges and universities with a total enrollment of 100 students and greater. This measure was made in order to help fill out the reserve force requirement of 400,000 men by 1946 and especially for junior reserve officers.[7]

World War II

At the onset of World War II in 1941, thirty-three colleges and universities in the Philippines had organized ROTC units, the cadets and officers of which would see action for the first time. Elements from different ROTC units in Metro Manila took part in the Battle of Bataan. ROTC cadets of Silliman University in the Visayas made up 45% of the strength of the 75th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). Volunteers from the Philippine Military Academy and various other ROTC units formed the Hunters ROTC guerrilla group, which took part in the resistance movement during the Japanese occupation after the last American and Filipino forces had surrendered.[6]

Post-World War II

On the pre-war ROTC uent Ferdinand Marcos rescillment of 250 male students and greater.[6] President Marcos also issued Presidential Decree No. 1706, otherwise known as the ified three categories of national service: civic welfare service, law enforcement service and military service.[8]nits. The Philippine Army became the Armed Forces of the Philippines on 23 December 1950, at which time the Philippinesn 13 September 1946, Philippine Army Headquarters reactivated was divided into four military areas and ROTC units operating within these areas fnded Executive Order No. 207 of 1939, promulgating Executive Order No. 59 in its place. This executive ord"National Service Law", on 8 August 1980. It made national service obligatory for all Filipino citizens and specer made ROTC mandatory at all colleges, universities and other institutions with an enroell under the supervision of their respective Area Commanders. On 8 February 1967, Presid

Republic Act 7077

Republic Act 7077, otherwise known as the "Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act", was enacted by the 8th Congress of the Philippines on 27 June 1991. The Reservist Act provided for organization, training and utilization of reservists, referred to in the Act as "Citizen Soldiers". The primary pool of manpower for the reservist organization are graduates of the ROTC basic and advance courses.[5]


A period of discontent over ROTC's conduct and the corruption that often plagued its individual units had long been fermenting prior to 2000. Filipino student websites often contain short essays regarding the alleged pointlessness of the program. Student groups would occasionally include ROTC in their roster of grievances, whereas lawmakers would introduce resolutions intended to abolish ROTC.[9]

Into this national mood of resentment fell a tragedy that would have a significant impact on the Philippine ROTC program. Mark Welson Chua, a student of the University of Santo Tomas and a member of the UST ROTC unit, was found dead, his body floating in the Pasig River on 18 March 2001. Prior to his death, he and another student had reported an account of alleged corruption within the UST ROTC unit to the school's student publication.[10] The National Bureau of Investigation would later conclude that members of the UST ROTC unit were responsible for Chua's death.[11] One of the suspects would be sentenced to death three years later.[12]

The incident set off an explosion of anti-ROTC sentiment as student associations, school administrators and other cause-oriented groups focused on protests and parliamentary approaches to the matter. The Congress of the Philippines took up the legal challenge; generating no less than seventeen bills and resolutions in both houses of Congress, in response to the clamor. Many of the bills mentioned Mark Chua in the text, acknowledging his death as the catalyst for reform.[13]

Republic Act 9163

Republic Act 9163, otherwise known as the "National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001", was Congress' answer to the clamor for change in the ROTC program. It was promulgated by the 12th Congress of the Philippines on 23 January 2002. Under the NSTP Program, both male and female college students of any baccalaureate degree course or technical vocational course in public or private educational institutions are obliged to undergo one of three program components, one of which is ROTC, for an academic period of two semesters. However, ROTC as a pre-requisite for graduation was rescinded.[1]

Impact on Philippine society

The ROTC program of the Philippines was for many decades a compelling aspect affecting the lives of male youths whom many despises it and even question it as to its relevance in pursuing a college education. It was also a significant contributor to the corruption and abuses within the ranks of the subject as expose by Mark Welson Chua before being murdered by his fellow ROTC Officers. But unbeknownst to the public, the ROTC program has undergone numerous unacknowledged name changes, like in the 1960s through the mid-1970s it was called "Philippine Military Training" or PMT, and then from the late 1970s up to the early 1990s it was called "Citizen Military Training" or CMT, also advance training did not begin until the mid-1970s when cadets who desired to be cadet officers underwent what was called "Cadet Officers Candidate Course" or COCC.

Armed Forces of the Philippines

As of 2008, ROTC graduates of the officer candidate schools of the various services constituted roughly 75% of the AFP officer corps; the rest come from the ranks of the Philippine Military Academy.[3] Among the more prominent graduates of the Philippine ROTC program are Gen. Alfredo M. Santos, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 1962 to 1965 and the first four-star general of the AFP, Gen. Rigoberto J. Atienza, 9th Chief of Staff of the AFP and for whom Camp Atienza in Quezon City is named, and Gen. Romeo C. Espino, the longest-serving AFP Chief of Staff who served from January 15, 1972 to Aug. 16, 1981.[3] Gen. Santos was a civil engineering graduate of Mapua Institute of Technology and was the Corp Commander of the Mapua Institute of Technology Reserve Officers' Training Corps; Gen. Atienza, a civil engineering graduate of the University of the Philippines, and Gen. Espino an agriculture graduate of University of the Philippines Los Baños.[3] Another notable ROTC graduate was Gen. Fabian C. Ver, AFP Chief of Staff under Ferdinand Marcos and director general of the National Intelligence and Security Authority.[3]

Post-2001 ROTC

At present, ROTC is no longer a mandatory program for college students, but an optional program component of the NSTP. The ROTC program accepts both male and female cadets. According to the latest available data, there has been a significant reduction in the number of students enrolling in ROTC. From more than 800,000 enrolled cadets during the 1999-2000 school year, ROTC enrollment has dropped to 150,000 as of 2011. During the first quarter of 2011, 500 colleges and universities were participating in the ROTC program. This is a sharp decline from the 200,000 schools offering ROTC before the National Service Training Program was enforced.[14]

According to the Commission on Higher Education, the ROTC component of NSTP has produced 1,435,000 graduates over a ten-year period from 2002 to 2012. In comparison, the CWTS and LTS components of NSTP has produced 8,614,000 and 538,700 graduates respectively.[15]

Proposals for and against mandatory implementation

A comparison of the number of ROTC graduates against other NSTP component graduates, 2002-2012
NSTP Component No. of Graduates
CWTS 8,614,000
LTS 538,700
ROTC 1,435,000

In 2006, Alfredo Lim sponsored Senate Bill 2224 and Representative Eduardo Gullas sponsored House Bill 5460, seeking to make ROTC again mandatory.[16] In June 2013, Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin aired a proposal to make ROTC once again mandatory for college students, a move ardently being protested by progressive youth groups such as Anakbayan.[17] There have also been reports of schools offering merchant marine courses that want to retain the ROTC program as mandatory, arguing that maritime companies prefer mariners with ROTC training.[18]

Members of the House of Representatives of the 16th Congress of the Philippines have filed at least six house bills related to the ROTC program. Congressmen Francis Abaya,[19] Rodolfo Biazon,[20] Erico Aumentado,[21] Sherwin Gatchalian[22] and Manny Pacquiao[23] have proposed reinstating the mandatory nature of ROTC training, while Kabataan Party-list representative Terry Ridon[24] has proposed the outright abolishment of the program.

In February 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the proposal to revive the mandatory nature of ROTC training for senior high school students in both public and private schools. Duterte certified the proposal as urgent and forwarded it to the Congress of the Philippines - House of Representatives (Lower House) and Senate (Upper House).[25] On 21 May 2019, the Lower House passed their version of the proposed law.[26] Some camps have criticized Duterte's inclination on this issue for admitting in a speech in 2016 that he himself did not finish his supposed ROTC service during his university days,[27] and two years later, expounded that he even falsified medical documents to be able to do so.[28][29][30]

Notable Philippine ROTC units


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 12th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. RA 9163.
  2. Labuguen, Florida C. (2012). Understanding the National Service Training Program. Mutya Publishing House, 11. ISBN 978-971-821-289-9. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Farolan, Ramon J.. Men of the ROTC.
  4. 4.0 4.1 National Assembly of the Philippines. CA No. 1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 8th Congress of the Republic to the Philippines. RA 7077.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Syjuco, José G. (1977). Military Education in the Philippines. New Day Publishers. 
  7. Morton, Louis. The Fall of the Philippines.
  8. Ferdinand E. Marcos. PD No. 1706.
  9. The ROTC Crisis of 2001.
  10. Pangalangan, Raul. Mandatory ROTC? Remember Mark Chua.
  11. Aravilla, Jose. 4 more suspects tagged in Mark Chua slay case.
  12. Requinta, Elka Krystle R.. Mark Chua's killer gets death.
  13. Philippine Army. History of ROTC.
  14. President Benigno Aquino III. Speech of President Aquino at the 17th national convention of the National ROTC Alumni Association, May 25, 2012.
  15. Liveta, Ronaldo A. (April 28, 2015). "NSTP-NSRC Updates and Challenges". 13th National Congress of NSTP Educators and Implementors. Philippine Society of NSTP Educators and Implementors.
  16. Zofia Leal. Patriotism is Dead? Senator blames it on lack of ROTC reservists.
  17. Manalo, Charlie V.. "Youth group bucks proposal to revive mandatory ROTC", The Daily Tribune, 18 June 2013. 
  18. de la Torre, AJ. "Naval officer says ROTC should still be offered in schools", The Philippine Star, 23 June 2013. 
  19. Abaya, Francis Gerald Aguinaldo. "An Act Reinstating the Mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for Students in All Public and Private Universities, Colleges and Similar Learning Institutions".
  20. Biazon, Rodolfo G.. "An Act Amending Republic Act Numbered 9163, Otherwise Known as the 'National Service Training Program Act of 2001', and for Other Purposes".
  21. Aumentado, Erico Aristotle C.. "An Act Reinstating the Mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for Students in All Public and Private Universities, Colleges and Similar Learning Institutions".
  22. Gatchalian, Sherwin T.. "An Act to Re-institutionalize the Mandatory Military and Civic Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for Students in All Colleges, Universities and Technical or Vocational Schools".
  23. Pacquiao, Emmanuel D.. "An Act Providing for the Restoration of Mandatory Military Training for Students in All Colleges and Universities by Reinstating Sections 38 and 39 of Republic Act No. 7077, Otherwise Known as the 'Citizen Armed Force or Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act'".
  24. Ridon, Terry L.. "An Act Abolishing the Reserve Officers Training Corps and Strengthening the Social and Civic Service Components of the National Service Training Program Through the Establishment of Additional Social and Civic Service Programs Available to Students by Amending and Expanding the Scope of Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001".
  25. "Duterte approves revival of mandatory ROTC for Grades 11, 12", Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 7, 2017. 
  26. "House OKs bill on mandatory ROTC for senior high students", CNN Philippines, May 20, 2019. 
  27. "Duterte admits not finishing ROTC course", The Philippine Star, August 4, 2016. 
  28. "Duterte shares the trick that got him out of ROTC", Rappler, July 15, 2017. 
  29. "Revive ROTC? Netizens remind Duterte: You faked your way through training", Politico: The bible of Philippine Politics, November 24, 2018. 
  30. "Why Duterte’s desire to make ROTC mandatory for ‘patriotism’ contradicts his actions", Interaksyon, November 23, 2018.