Love of country is more than donning uniforms, undergoing combat training, and taking up arms.
While international events seem to point to rising tension or hostility arising from territorial disputes triggered by aggressive posturing by some emerging regional military powers, the rest of the international community is opposed to armed conflict to resolve disputes between or among nations.
And while there have been serial incursions into our maritime territories, the errant foreign vessels have not committed actual aggressive action that demands repulsive or retaliatory action by our state security forces.
True, such serial, consistent provocative actions merit a national defensive mobilization.
While many would willingly respond to a national call to mobilize in defense of the nation, not all citizens would be inclined or able-bodied to sign up.
Besides, they can always defend and serve the country and support the troops in many other ways aside from direct participation in combat.
After all, patriotism is is not measured by the length of a tour of duty but “a steady dedication of a lifetime”.
And so we agree with a support Sen. Imee Marcos in pushing to make the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program a college option rather than a high school requirement for graduation.
Marcos said the absence of community service subjects in the curriculum of the ROTC program would make it “overtly military”, as she pushed for the “Citizen Services Program” bill, which makes military training an option for college-level students instead of a requirement for those in Grade 11 and 12.
She noted that civic involvement, and not just mandatory military training, can enhance discipline and patriotism among the youth.
“You can’t legislate nationalism or force kids to be soldiers,” Marcos said.
The lady lawmaker cited some possible inadequacies of the ROTC program, which include the absence of a follow-up retraining program that would upgrade the skills of ROTC cadets after completing their basic education, as well as a database that can efficiently keep track of former ROTC cadets who may need to be drafted for military service.
Under her “Citizen Services Program” bill, students who opt for ROTC training would be granted free health insurance and medical services.
Meanwhile, Sen Pia Cayetano pushed for a more “comprehensive and holistic” alternative to the proposal to revive the mandatory ROTC program for senior high school students.
During a Senate Committee on Basic Education’s public hearing on the proposed mandatory ROTC in senior high school, Cayetano said instilling a sense of patriotism and nationalism among young Filipinos should start in their formative years.
Cayetano echoed Marcos’ position that patriotism is not measured solely on the basis of individual military capability or readiness.
“I just want to put my point out there, that there are different ways to develop nationalism and there are different components (to be considered),” she added.
The lady legislator pushed for her Senate Bill 925, or the ‘Youth Patriotism and Bayanihan Act,’ which seeks to institutionalize a two-tiered program to strengthen the values of discipline, patriotism, and nationalism of students from Grades 1 to 12.
The fundamental program “shall include physical fitness, arts, and cultural heritage, community outreach, basic disaster risk reduction and management, and basic security”.
The specialized program “shall have components such as internal security and peace and order, dedicated disaster risk reduction and management, advanced security, and career development”.