Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Tuesday he was in favor of certifying the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) bill as urgent to augment the manpower for the country’s defense and disaster response.
One of the priority measures of the Marcos administration, the ROTC bill is waiting to be approved for second reading in the Senate.
An urgent certification from the president allows the approval of a bill in its second and third readings on the same day.
“Ako, gusto ko ma-certify siya as urgent kasi hindi lang naman tinitignan natin dito for defense purposes but also for climate change and response to calamities,” Gatchalian said in an interview at the Senate.
(Personally, I want this bill to be certified urgent, not only for defense purposes but also for government response to calamities.)
“Nakita ko nga ang reservists natin pakaunti nang pakaunti parang wala pang 10,000 ang reservist natin nationwide as compared to 300,000 sa Israel so ganun karami ang kanilang reservist. At makikita natin doon basta may problema kapag tinawag nila reservist ready na agad, may uniporme, may baril, talagang ready nang umakto,” he added, referring to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestine-based Hamas militant group.
(I noticed that the number of reservists is decreasing. I think the current number is less than 10,000 nationwide compared to 300,000 in Israel. We can see that if there are conflicts, they can easily call their reservists. They are wearing their uniforms, equipped with guns, and they are ready to defend.)
Gatchalian expressed confidence that his fellow senators would be convinced to increase the number of reservists through the mandatory ROTC program in light of the situation in the Gaza Strip.
“I think maganda naman ang plano ng batas and with this incident marami sa ating mga kasamahan nakita kung paano rumesponde ang Israel gamit ang kanilang reservists. So ako, confident ako na ma-a-appreciate ng ating mga kasamahan ang ganitong konsepto,” he said.
(I think the intent of the bill is good, and with this incident, I think many of my colleagues saw how Israel’s reservists responded. I’m confident that they will appreciate this concept.)
Gatchalian said at present, civilians’ admission to the reserve corps is purely voluntary.
The lawmaker said he plans to file a bill wherein reservists who are working in the private corps will be paid by either the government or the corporation on days that they will miss work for their military training. —VBL, GMA Integrated News