Netizens react to retired Philippine Army general Carlito Galvez’s claim that ROTC is helpful for mental health
According to a retired Philippine Army general now serving as the Secretary of National Defense, Carlito Guancing Galvez Jr. on Monday, the resurrection of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program can enhance the mental well-being of young people by equipping them with useful skills and strengthening their mental toughness in challenging circumstances.
Galvez made the declaration in front of members of the Senate committees on higher education and national defense and security. These committees held their final hearing on seven proposals aimed at restoring the ROTC program.
He stated that he feels the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in the Philippines) program is superior to the National Service Training Program (NSTP) in shaping students into patriotic and accountable citizens.
Galvez explained, “I’m also an educator. I train people. By vocation, I’m fond of teaching. What I see in the ROTC program, its training is experiential. That’s what makes it different from the NSTP. The mental health problem that we have, can be cured because the frustration tolerance of the person will go up.”
The secretary of National Defense stated that the majority of military personnel receive training to serve as mentors, leaders, and counselors to support young soldiers and recruits in managing their difficulties.
The defense chief also stated that the NSTP failed to instill a sense of “nationalism” and a “commitment” to serve the country in the youth.
Netizens questioned where Galvez got his claim from, with some mocking him.
According to doctors, Galvez’s claim has no proof.
As a matter of fact, mandatory participation in ROTC could have a harmful impact on an individual’s mental well-being, said Dr. Gia Sison, a mental health advocate. She told Rappler, “Creating a psychologically safe space definitely includes choices and not forces.”
According to psychiatrist Dr. Dinah Nadera, increasing one’s tolerance for frustration may not always lead to better mental health. Nadera said, “Kasi ang focus dapat na values na patriotism, nationalism at character-building or values formation ay hindi mo maso-solve sa pag-increase ng frustration tolerance. Magkaiba ang resilience sa frustration tolerance.”
Dr. Joan Rifareal of the Philippine Psychiatric Association stated that while ROTC may not provide a complete solution for mental health issues, it can act as an outlet for students to release the frustrations they may face in different aspects of their lives.
In his first State of the Nation Address, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. listed making ROTC mandatory as one of his top priorities, with Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte also advocating for this proposal.
However, this support for mandatory ROTC by the Vice President has faced criticism, with activist groups arguing that mandatory military service sends a message that dissent will be met with force.