ROTC to give future Filipino sailors edge

(Photo Courtesy of CPU)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to revive the compulsory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program for all male Grades 11 and 12 students, once realized, is bound to give future Filipino sailors the edge in the global market for ship officers, the ACTS-OFW Coalition of Organizations said Sunday.

“There’s no question international shipping companies perfer to recruit merchant mariners with basic military training,” said ACTS-OFW chairman Aniceto Bertiz III.

“If we produce Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering graduates who underwent the ROTC course when they were in senior high school, they will surely be highly favored by shipping firms around the world,” Bertiz, a former member of Congress, said.

The President recently endorsed to Congress a list of 22 priority measures for immediate passage, including the bill the renewing the mandatory two-year ROTC course for all male senior high school students.

To build up the country’s defense readiness, Duterte had also batted for the return of the basic military schooling during his 2019 State of the Nation Address.

“Very important. Alam mo ‘pag mag giyera-giyera, 10 out of 10 hindi marunong maghawak ng baril to defend even his father and mother and brothers and sisters. Itong mga bata ngayon, they are bereft of the patriotism and the love of country. Balik sila dito (ROTC). I think military training will be good for everybody,” Duterte said during his SONA.

Citing a report from the London-based International Chamber of Shipping, Bertiz said the Philippines is now the world’s second-largest supplier of licensed ship officers after China, and the largest supplier of unlicensed ship ratings or non-officer crew, ahead of China.

The other top global suppliers of ship officers and ratings are India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Bertiz said Filipino sailors sent home via bank channels a total of $2.684 billion from January to May this year, up 9.2 percent (or $227 million) from $2.457 billion in the same five-month period in 2018.

They wired home through the banking system a total of $6.139 billion in the 12 months of 2018.