BETING DOLOR: Why the big fuss over ROTC?

Whether the revival of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program should be for senior high school students or college freshman has been the topic of debate of late, with today’s students and their parents balking at the return of the mandatory military training program that is being pushed by Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte.

From the looks of it, the return is all but inevitable.

To this I can only say, so what?

Guys of my generation – I’m in my 60s now, so you do the math – underwent not only ROTC or its equivalent, but we did so in both high school and college.

In my case, my school had naval training so in high school we had what was called pre-naval training, or PNT. In college, it was NROTC, or Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Few of us took the mandatory training seriously. We were pissed that it took some of our time from our hanging out or going on daytime dates. But we survived.

The only thing I remember enjoying somewhat was when we were taught how to assemble and disassemble a .45 caliber handgun. It was easy as pie.

We also mocked the World War ll era rifles that we used during training. Or maybe they were World War l vintage. We were not sure if the damn things could even fire.

The one sad event I remember was when one cadet – I think we were called cadets, but I could be wrong – collapsed in front of me and starting shaking violently. He was also frothing at the mouth.

For a while, we were afraid that we had a death in our hands. But the guy recovered soon enough, and he was allowed to go home. I never saw him in our ROTC drills again.

So he may have had a medical reason for being exempted from the much disliked ‘RO’ as we called it.

And I will say something now that I have kept a semi-secret for decades.

One of my barkada hated RO so much that he found a way to get exempted for one whole semester. He claimed to have an unknown medical condition, so he approached our commander and asked to be exempted. He gave the guy a bottle of Black Label, and we was properly rewarded with 12 weeks of no RO.

That far back, we learned that good old graft and corruption was no big deal. Both parties got what they wanted.

Me? I just continued with the training, which didn’t do anything good or bad for me, as far as I was concerned. Anyway, one of my closest friends was weird enough to train over the summer to be an officer.

He nor I have no idea if RO did him any good.

Maybe the discipline was helpful later in life, I don’t know. I also had other not-so-close friends who also took up officer’s training. The best thing about it was they got to don a sword and a fancier costume, or uniform, than the rest of us cadets.

We also competed against other schools in military drills, such as marching in formation. Most of us believed we did exceptionally well, and were surprised when the other school won over us.

I recall one of our officers taking the loss hard. He punched a wall again and again until his knuckles became swollen. He also kicked the same wall if I remember right.

That gent is now in the US and may read this piece. In which case my message to him is, I remember bro. We were cheated. But it’s really your fault because you would eventually make your way to the US and end up as a card-carrying Republican.

Worst of all, you became a Trump diehard.

Ok, ok. I jest. But it did take something to want to become an officer. One of the guys who did get to own that nice-looking sword is alive and well, except for the usual aches and pains of growing old. Actually, he does have some kind of condition and when I last saw him, he was already wearing a face mask. This was long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

So thousands of us, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands of us, survived RO. We did not become better or worse citizens, as far as I can tell.

If the powers that be force today’s kids to take up mandatory training, my only advice is: live with it.

I only wish that the country employ the same type of mandatory military training employed by Israel. This is one country I highly admire and having all their citizens ready to be called to active duty at the snap of a finger is one reason Israel is such a strong country.

Why, even the glamorous Gal Gadot is a reserve officer of the Israeli military. So there.

Another country that has a similar mandatory training is South Korea, I believe. And this is yet another country that I highly admire. Ditto with Taiwan, which is a separate state as far as I’m concerned.

Xi can take his One-China policy and shove it. He knows that invading and conquering Taiwan will only take place in his dreams.

A mighty military with a civilian foundation is why Israel’s neighbors know that waging war against the Jewish state will always be an exercise in futility. It cannot be beaten in any kind of conventional war.

But what of the Philippines?

Our motherland has a weak military, and that’s the plain and simple truth. It’s the reality. Reviving or dispensing with RO will not make one whit of a difference.

What I would like to see is for all our young men and women learn the intricacies of guerilla warfare, so when those big, bad #bleep# invade our country, they will regret their decision.

The Vietnam War proved that the mightiest military in the world could be beaten. The Russians in Ukraine are learning the same lesson now. When a country is invaded, its people can be depended on to fight to the death.

Our grandfathers proved pretty much the same thing in World War ll. Parts of the Philippines never surrendered to the Japanese invaders.

So the government wants to revive ROTC?

Fine. And then what?