“We can foster more patriotism by bringing our students closer to the people rather than by putting them in uniform and making them drill.”
This is the statement of Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) President Fr. Joel Tabora in an interview this morning after his press conference with TV host and Palace Communications Chief Martin Andanar.
The university president disagrees with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s recent proposal that the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. (ROTC) should be mandatory for both men and women in the tertiary level. For Fr. Tabora, ROTC should be an option.
“Some of them [students] may want to learn about military arts or military leadership, that would be fine,” he said, but he added that the program should be revised, considering what has happened in the past during its implementation.
Before, when the said program was strictly implemented, there were several cases of harassment, corruptions, and violations committed particularly by ROTC commandants.
An example was the reported death of the University of the Sto. Tomas (UST) student Mark Welson Chua, which was linked to his exposé of the believed corruption in their ROTC unit. Even in AdDU, in the year 2000, ROTC as a venue for discipline was questioned.
“You don’t teach much patriotism simply by marching people up and down and telling them to obey somebody’s barking orders,” the university president explained. “We want our students to be able to think and to be able to weigh different options; to be able to lead, not just to follow somebody else’s [orders].”
When asked how the probable lack of military officers in the future would be addressed, Fr. Tabora said that putting students in ROTC is not necessary to make them respond to the need for officers.
“Discipline comes by helping them [students] to learn how to think,” he remarked.
At present, Ateneo de Davao is among the universities that do not offer ROTC courses. Instead, the school mandates students to take National Service and Training Program (NSTP) which requires community engagements and fieldwork.