Duterte eyes arming ROTC troops, reservists to counter terrorism

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President Rodrigo Duterte says giving the ROTC and reservist force arms would be a last resort.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 27) — President Rodrigo Duterte is looking into the possibility of arming graduates of the Reserve Officers' Training Course (ROTC) program and military reservists to defeat terrorism.

"If things get worse, I will allow the mobilization and the maybe purchase of the ROTC and those guys who have had military training and I will allow you to use, bear the high-caliber firearms," Duterte said at the inauguration of a shooting range in Davao City Monday.

However, the President said giving the ROTC and reservist force arms would be a last resort.

The ROTC is a program in colleges and universities that seeks to prepare the youth for national defense.

Under Republic Acts 7077 and 9163, graduates of the optional ROTC program will be part of the citizen's reservist force. The forces may be mobilized by the President in times of threats to national security.

Under Section 63 of RA 7077, reserve forces may be ordered to volunteer for military auxiliary service.

"Reservists serving under this category will be organized into Ready Reserve Units. They must be issued and allowed to carry firearms: provided, that these reservists will be utilized only for the defense of their localities and will not be employed outside their localities," it stated.

The President on Monday also said the country will be receiving 5,000 arms from a "friendly country," which he used to divulge, as part of the government's plan to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

READ: Duterte: PH to soon receive 5,000 firearms from a 'friendly country'

"We will buy all the ammunitions and if really it becomes to a big push... we will mobilize. And we will defeat them," he said.

Security officials claim the threat of terrorism is still imminent, with the presence of New People's Army rebels and members of the ISIS in Mindanao. Using the terror threat as reason, Congress extended martial law in Mindanao up to December 2018, after a five-month long battle in Marawi City.