Actor Robin Padilla announced Sunday that he’s set to enlist in the army reserves to show his support for what appears to be the imminent return of mandatory military training in schools.
Padilla, 49, wrote on Instagram that he would sign up with the reserves to join Filipino students who may be enrolled in the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), if it is made mandatory in senior high school.
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Mga kabataang Pilipino Sasamahan ko kayo mula umpisa hanggang sa huli. Papasok ako sa Philippine Army Reserve para sa inyo upang masundan ko ang bawat ninyong hakbang tungo sa kabayanihan. San man tayo makarating hindi ko kayo pababayaan! Tayoy huhubugin ng Hukbong Sandatahan ng Pilipinas! sabi nga ni Lt. Colonel Hal Moore i will always be the first one on the battle field, and i will be the last one to step foot off the battlefield. not only will i be the last one off, i will not leave any of my soldiers behind. Hindi tayo iiwan ng AFP at ni Mayor PRRD mga mahal na kabataan kayat tayoy tumindig at bumangon ng nakataas ang dibdib at nakataas ang mga Noo Para sa Dios! Para sa Inangbayan! Para sa Kapwa Pilipino! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang kagitingan ng ating Lahi! Mabuhay ang Katipunan!
“I will enter the Philippine Army Reserve for you, so that I could follow your path to heroism,” he addressed students in an emotional mix of Filipino and English. “Wherever you may go, I will not leave you behind! We will be trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines!”
He did not specify when he would enlist.
Padilla, famous for a string of blockbuster action movies in the 1990s, is one of the most vocal celebrity supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte. He said the president and armed forces, known as the AFP, will support the students as they go through ROTC.
“We will not be left behind by the AFP and Mayor PRRD [Duterte] my beloved youths, so let’s stand up with our chests pumped and our heads held high for God! For the motherland! For other Filipinos!” he wrote.
In case there is any doubt about Padilla’s stand about the ROTC, the photo on his Instagram post includes this line: “We have to be trained militarily to defend our country. Support the ROTC.”
Duterte’s push for the return of mandatory ROTC to schools won support from Congress for grades 11 and 12 last month. He believes the program will teach teens patriotism and supporters say the rigorous training teaches discipline.
Critics say, however, say that it’s riddled with corruption and hazing.
The law’s passage by the Senate is in doubt. Although Duterte certified it as urgent legislation, senators said yesterday they have no time left to discuss it because the 17th Congress will adjourn Saturday. The Senate will reopen July 22 for the next session. In case senators fail to pass the ROTC bill, it has to be refiled in the next Congress.
ROTC was mandatory for male Filipinos until 2002, when it became optional following the death of Mark Welson Chua.
Chua was an engineering student and ROTC cadet at the University of Santo Tomas when he was killed by ROTC student officers after complaining to the Department of National Defense that they were engaged in bribery and corruption.
An overwhelming number of Padilla’s supporters agreed with him. User Jaymarlahaylahay insinuated that youths do not like ROTC because they don’t wish to be disciplined.
User Cherry_Vonk said ROTC is necessary so that students can defend themselves.
Padilla follower Yvonnepagaddut said mandatory ROTC should return to teach discipline to young people.
Another one agreed with Padilla and said that the Philippines should follow the examples of South Korea and Middle East countries. According to the BBC, one Middle East country where military service is required is Iran.
Padilla appears to be following a trend set by Matteo Guidicelli, a young actor who joined the army reserves in April.
Do you support the return of mandatory ROTC? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.