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Soldiers in waiting: The vital role of reservists in nation-building

Army reservists help in the evacuation of at least 3,000 families trapped in their homes when the Taal Volcano erupted in January 2020. The families took shelter in the evacuation camps arranged by government offices. (Photo from PFC Lian Llanes/PIA-NCR file)

When calamities strike or conflict arises, the government, specially the military, can tap reservists as a backup force in humanitarian and disaster response. 

Former congressman and past director-general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Charito B. Plaza is a reservist.

Plaza is a brigadier-general in the air force reserve force. She is the wing commander of the 1st Air Force Reserve Wing (AFWR). She also co-authored the legislative measure that became Republic Act 7077 or the Citizen Armed Forces Law.

She explains, these citizen-soldiers form a crucial 80 percent of military manpower as mandated by the Constitution and the Reservist’s Law. Their selfless service demonstrates the essence of shared duty for national defense and resiliency. 

Plaza is among the Founding Reservists and Wing Commander of the entire Mindanao 3rd Air Force Wing Reserve and later, the 7th Air Force Wing Reserve where she was actively involved in disasters, calamities, and emergency responses.

Brigadier General Charito B. Plaza gives the background and encourages PIA employees and the public to consider joining the Armed Forces Reservists. (Photo by Nonette Castillo/PIA-NCR)

First, let us organize, train, and fully equip the LGUs, national government agencies, and private companies to become effective responders during disasters, calamities, emergencies, and in nation-building. Second, let us help in fostering peace and prosperity not only [in] Metro Manila, but the entire country,” she said.

The official also mentioned the importance of the Reservist Program citing that “under the Reservist Law RA 7077, the Armed Forces and its Affiliated Reserve Units of various government agencies and private utilities can be called by the President of the Republic of the Philippines who is the Commander-in-Chief in times of disasters, calamities, emergencies, and war to achieve and maintain peace, order, security and stability in times of distress." 

Whether soldiers in uniform or civilians with specialized skills, reservists stand ready to augment the regular Armed Forces in diverse missions. They preserve peace and order when disasters disrupt communities. They safeguard lives and property when storms batter the islands. They uphold security when violence and extremism threaten society. 

As of June 2023, the AFP has 150,000 active-duty personnel and about 1.2 million reservists. 

In times of need, reservists embrace the calling because they understand service as an obligation of citizenship. 

Their technical expertise and local roots make them force multipliers, expanding response capacity while bridging communities with government aid. 

Whether coordinating relief distribution after a typhoon, assisting evacuation during volcanic eruptions, or supporting conflict reduction in hotspots, reservists act with speed, empathy and sacrifice.

This expansive participation reflects democratic ideals. Filipinos from all walks of life can contribute to the common good through active public service. 

Doctors heal the wounded alongside military medics. Engineers repair infrastructure alongside construction battalions. Business leaders provide logistics and volunteers. Youth assist and learn.

And women like General Plaza herself champion inclusion and empowerment within traditionally male-centric security services. 

When women lead in uniforms, when mothers serve alongside daughters, they inspire the nation and open doors to a new generation.

Brigadier General Charito B. Plaza receives a plaque of appreciation from the PIA Directorate for discussing the backgrounder on joining the Reservists Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (L-R) PIA Asst. Director General Allan Vincent Lorenzo, PIA Asst. Director General Tadeo Culla, BGen. Plaza, PIA Deputy Director General for Admin and Finance Wilson Buerano and PIA-NCR Regional Director Emver Cortez. (Photo by Nonette Castillo/PIA-NCR)

Incidentally, Proclamation No. 340 signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III declares that the celebration of the ROTC Month shall be observed annually during the month of March.

For those interested to join the reserve force, you may directly inquire with the following Reservist and Retiree Offices and Reservist Commands to know more:

  • OJ9, Armed Forces of the Philippines
    Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, J9, Armed Forces of the Philippines GHQ, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City
  • OG9, Philippine Army
    Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for RRA, OG9, Philippine Army, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
  • OA9, Philippine Air Force
    Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for RRA, OA9, Philippine Air Force, Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City
  • ON9, Philippine Navy
    Office of the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff for RRA, ON9, 2nd Floor, OESPA Bldg., Naval Station Jose Francisco, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
  • AFP Reserve Command
    AFP Reserve Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines GHQ, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City; Phone number: (02) 8911-6001, local 4656 or 4493
  • Army Reserve Command
    ARESCOM Headquarters, Camp Regio de Dios, Tanza, Cavite
  • Air Force Reserve Command
    AIR RESCOM Headquarters, Clark Air Base, Pampanga
  • Naval Reserve Command
    NAVRESCOM Headquarters, Cabildo Street, Intramuros, Manila

Hardships endured together forge civic unity and national resilience. While the Armed Forces regulars represent the sharp tip of the spear, reservists form the shaft that gives it strength and balance - ordinary citizens rising to the extraordinary through their collective spirit of “malasakit” (compassion for others) and “bayanihan” (mutual support).

In both disaster response and conflict resolution, the Reservist Force multiplies capability with the will of the people. They embody the essence of shared security - that the safety of all rests upon the active collaboration between government and an engaged citizenry. Their selfless service secures the nation now, while renewing the wellspring of vigilance and preparedness for generations to come. They are all soldiers in waiting. (AVS/PIA-NCR)

About the Author

Alice Sicat

Information Officer IV


Assistant Regional Director of PIA-NCR

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