More benefits for military reservists sought

February 29, 2020

SENATORS Joel Villanueva and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. acknowledge the significant role military reservists play in times of calamities and thwarting terrorism. Senate bills 1147 and 1203 were filed by Villanueva and Revilla, respectively, to strengthen the employment rights of the reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The proposal was filed and passed on third reading at the Senate during the previous Congress.

The final copy of the measure was sent to the House of Representatives requesting  its concurrence but it failed to act on it.

“Citizen soldiers or reservists play an integral role in defending the Philippines in times of war, armed conflicts and similar occurrences, and in providing assistance during natural disasters, among others,” Villanueva explained.

He cited the five-month long Battle of Marawi in Lanao del Sur that started on May 23, 2017 between the AFP and the militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf jihadist groups.

During those months, the AFP mobilized two battalions of reservists either to be in the frontlines or provide assistance to soldiers and civilians caught in the crossfire.

In 2013, hundreds of military reservists were also deployed for search and rescue operations in provinces, mostly in Leyte, devastated by super-typhoon Yolanda.

These citizen soldiers risk their lives to save lives, said Villanueva, and many of them have decent jobs in private firms to catch up after their tour of military duty.

“Unfortunately, reservists often risk losing their civilian careers when they render military service,” the senator said, citing a Harvard Business Review study on the inclination of US companies to hire active military reservists.

The 2017 study found out that American employers find it challenging to hire or invest in military reservists due to the possibility that they might be called regularly, and will, thus, take long leaves from work to render military service.