Regional formation of youth group Anakbayan in Cordillera expresses concern on the continuous human rights violations committed by Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) officers against its low-ranking cadets in Benguet State University (BSU).
Reports gathered by members of Anakbayan in BSU from a former ROTC cadet revealed series of physical and sexual abuses since his first year in the program until he quit this year during his second year as a cadet.
The cadet complained about the regular physical torture he suffered every night in their barracks located inside the university.
“Bsta sinusuntok kmi sa tiyan tapos ung pinagsasal sal kmi… tapos pinapalo nila puwit namn ng rifle (We were punched in the stomach and we were forced to masturbate…then they hit our buttocks with rifle),” said the victim in a text message.
According to him, it became common for high-ranking ROTC officials in BSU to command trainees to masturbate. Moreover, they will be further tortured if they failed to ejaculate.
From around a hundred trainees in their batch when he enrolled in ROTC, only two stayed to finish the program because of these incidents based on his accounts.
While the alleged torture is extreme, Anakbayan claimed that they are no longer surprised by the incident.
Luke Bagangan, secretary general of Anakbayan Cordillera described this case as an “open secret” in BSU.
“We are not surprised since this is no longer new in both private and public universities here in Baguio and Benguet. It already happened before and continues to this day,” said Bagangan.
The youth leader cited that in 1999, Arthur Salero, an ROTC cadet in Saint Louis University died because of ROTC hazing.
Two reported cases of hazing also happened in the University of the Cordilleras in 1999 and 2000 while another happened in University of the Philippines Baguio also in 2000.
The group further claimed that more hazing incidents were not yet documented.
“In BSU, for example, many are afraid to file complaints since this may put them in risk. Also, potential complainants were being threatened in forms of removal of benefits such as scholarships, automatic failure in the course, and even death threats,” explained Bagangan.
Despite this, the group is urging victims in BSU to file complaints against abusive ROTC officials as support for the national campaign to abolish the program.
It can be noted that Kabataan Partylist earlier filed House Bill 2399, which aims to abolish the Reserve Officers Training Corps or ROTC.
“Aside from posing a great deal of harm to the students, the ROTC should be abolished since it 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. This blind obedience also tolerates corruption, a practice that continues to the Armed Forces today,” said Bagangan.#