President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday called on Congress to pass a law that would make Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory for senior high school (SHS) students.

Marcos Jr.’s mandatory ROTC proposal is for students in Grades 11 and 12 “in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions” in the country.

“The aim is to motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations,” Marcos Jr. said in his first State of the Nation Address.

Mandatory ROTC was abolished in 2002 following the death of Mark Welson Chua, a student of the University of Santo Tomas who exposed anomalies in the training corps.

ROTC was made optional through the National Service Training Program Act of 2001, or Republic Act No. 9163.

Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, Marcos Jr.’s running mate in the 2022 elections, earlier proposed mandatory ROTC for all Filipinos who reach the age of 18.

However, her idea has been labeled difficult to implement by then-Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who said the country lacked funds and resources. John Ezekiel J. Hirro