Following the hazing incident committed by ROTC officers in Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), series of protest actions will be conducted in the University of the Philippines Baguio calling for the total abolition of the Reserved Officers Training Course (ROTC) in all universities.
According to Miguel Patrick Cerezo, secretary-general of Anakbayan UPB the said call is a national demand of students for many decades and recently intensified due to various revealed cases of hazing and corruption in the program these past months.
It is noted that recently in PUP, two female cadets were reportedly hit by ROTC officials with wooden rifles causing severe bruises at the back of their thighs because they failed to attend a briefing. For Cerezo, there is nothing unusual in the said case except that it was revealed in public, disproving the claim of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that this is just an isolated one.
“If hazing incidents are isolated cases, how can they (referring to AFP) explain the numerous cases of ROTC related violence happening in various universities in Baguio,” said Pol Pulmano, Anakbayan Metro-Baguio spokesperson.
He also cited that there are also cases of violence that happened over the past few years that have failed to reach the public but are nevertheless serious indicators of ROTC’s danger to the students. It can be recalled that aside from Mark Chua of the University of Santo Tomas, Arthur Salero an ROTC cadet of Saint Louis University also died in 1999 because of hazing.
There are also reports of hazing in University of Cordillera in 1999 and another in 2000, where the UC administration refused to take action citing that ROTC is independent body outside the supervision of the university.
“We should also remember that in UP Baguio, UP Vanguard (organization of ROTC cadets in UP) is very notorious for practicing hazing and torture to their cadets in the campus. In 2000, six of them were dismissed because of these acts,” Pulmano added. Moreover, the youth group said that these reports are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as more cases are kept secret.
This is because potential complainants experiences psychological threatening from ROTC in forms of removal of benefits such as scholarships, automatic failure in the course and even death threats.
“Aside from posing a great deal of harm to the students, the ROTC also brings additional burden to the parents due to additional requirements such as ROTC uniforms. It also kills the free thinking, creativity and enthusiasm of the youth by conditioning them to obey all orders no matter the cost. These blind obedience also tolerates corruption, a practice that continues to the Armed Forces today,” ends Pulmano.
As Anakbayan UPB condemns these acts, the youth group is also currently lobbying for the passing of Kabataan Partylist authored House Bill 3143 or the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Reform Act of 2013.
As mentioned by Cerezo, the bill seeks to strengthen the NSTP through the establishment of additional socio-civic service programs and completely abolishing ROTC.
Under HB 3143, new programs under NSTP such as Comprehensive Community Service Program, Community Based Health and Nutrition Program, Community Immersion Program, Disaster Preparedness Program, Ecological Services Program and Human Rights Education and Advocacy Program will be created.
“These additional programs will surely provide the necessary service training to uphold nationalism and patriotism. Of course, this is different from the blind obedience provided by ROTC. We cannot have youth leaders who are trained blindly to obey even the worst policies and programs of these government, ” said Cerezo.
Moreover, the city-wide Anakbayan formation agreed that such bill will open a better path for socio-civic involvement of the youth without the violence and other fascist traditions attributed to ROTC.