BOXING icon Manny Pacquiao is urging college students to choose military service training among the courses offered under the mandatory National Training Service Program (NTSP), saying it will prepare them to defend the country in the event of external aggression.
“Bravery and patriotism are characters in the heart of every Filipino. But the cause of defending one’s country also requires preparedness and skills to be able to succeed,” said the 37-year old Congressman from the province of Sarangani, a volunteer reservist with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the AFP Reserve Force.
Students are required to finish one NTSP course as a requisite for graduation, and the boxing great is appealing to them to take up Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program from among the four NTSP courses offered in college.
At the same time, Pacquiao is calling on the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Defense to work out strategies for the implementation of a massive information and dissemination campaign that would encourage the youth to undergo ROTC training.
“Nobody wants war but no Filipino wants to see their country easily crushed in case of foreign invasion,” stressed Pacquiao, who is seeking a Senate seat under the party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Taking time off his rigid training for his coming welterweight fight against Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao discussed with a group of young Filipino-Americans his plan to rally the country’s college students to volunteer for ROTC training as part of their patriotic duty to defend the Philippines in case of war.
“I hope to inspire our youth to spend a portion of their time in strengthening their sense of patriotic duty,” he said.
Pacquiao previously held the rank of senior master sergeant, the highest post possible for a military reservist who does not have a college degree.
Philippine laws grant elected officials holding national posts such as congressmen and senators to hold the rank of commissioned officers in the reserve military force.
After being conferred a honorary doctorate degree in humanities by Southwestern University in Cebu in 2009, the Philippine Army promoted Pacquiao to the rank of lieutenant colonel.