ROTC will restore fascism, abet corruption and killings


WE NEED not tell and retell the story of Mark Welson Chua’s murder by his own fellow cadet officers in the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) every time there are talks of reviving mandatory ROTC.

But for a nation with a poor memory and like the President, has a woeful if not twisted sense of history (he claims there’s no proof the Marcoses looted the country, that the country should be renamed “Maharlika,” an idea first broached by Her Imeldific and the other half of the Marcos kleptocracy who has claimed she’s of royal birth), the Varsitarian, to whom Chua confided the ills of the institution which he and his murderers were part of, finds it fitting to do so.

Alas, almost two decades since the UST student’s murder, the country has not learned its lessons. And as it seems, Chua’s death may once and for all be put in vain with the House of Representatives approving on second reading a measure that would make ROTC mandatory for Senior High School students.

House Bill 8961 states that the goal of reviving the mandatory ROTC is to “instill moral and spiritual virtues and respect for human rights and adherence to the Constitution.”

But on what moral grounds do the President and his government stand when talking about the ROTC as a way of instilling virtues and respect for human rights among the youth when they themselves want to put juvenile delinquents behind bars instead of rehabilitating them, or of outrightly killing drug pushers instead of curing them of their addiction?

It is not good to trust in the President and his cohorts in Congress’ desire to restore ROTC as it would only allow the perpetuation of machismo and violence on campus–the same values which evidently Duterte and those who follow him blindly possess.

In March of 2001, the body of the 19-year-old Chua, an engineering sophomore in UST, was found floating on the Pasig River, with his head wrapped with a silver packaging tape, his hands tied with shoestring and his legs bound by a packaging tape–all because he wanted change in the institution he had served.

Chua’s killers have been convicted and sentenced, but it is worthwhile to note that some of them remain at large. Children of high military and police officers, they have eluded arrest and up to this day, neither the military nor the police seem to have found the initiative to track them down, capture them and make them serve their time in prison.

It is for this reason that Duterte and his lap dogs in Congress are adding insult to injury by attempting to restore mandatory ROTC. Justice has not been fully served to Chua and his family and here are mad dog from Davao and his “galisin Askals” or scabbied dogs in Congress (with apologies to the everyone’s beloved native Philippine canine of course) crying for the return of the bloody institution that in the first place bullied and beat up Chua and dumped him in the Pasi River.

The corruption in the ROTC as exposed by Chua, was only one of the many incidents. Over the years, though it was made optional after his death, such cases have continued, along with reports of physical abuse particularly hazing. Should we even have to wonder if these instances would spike should ROTC be made mandatory again?

Further, it is hypocritical for the Duterte government to speak of teaching patriotism and love of country when it is government itself which commits treason by playing dog waiting for scraps of meat from his master that is Beijing, by weakening its own armed forces’s morale and compromising the country’s rights to the West Philippine Sea.

In doing so, it would say one thing and do another, and the youth will only inherit the faulty logic that loving one’s nation is serving in the military and at the same time, playing accomplice to compromising our rights in our own territory.

UST, for her part, should speak up on this matter. When a member of the Thomasian community died for the cause of cleaning up the ranks in the ROTC, then rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P. led the University Belt consortium in calling for the abolition of the mandatory ROTC, which other colleges and universities followed through. And through such move was the compulsory ROTC abolished and the National Service Training Program passed.

Let’s not forget too, that another Thomasian Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, died from another culture of violence, that is, of fraternities through hazing. Condemning violence is condemning it in all forms, not picking through and justifying those that may produce results because the end never justifies the means. And so in 2018, months after Castillo’s death, hazing in all forms was banned through a legislation caused by the uproar on lawmakers.

Coincidentally, it had to cost Chua and Castillo their lives to spark changes in the country.

But certainly, we shouldn’t have wait for another incident. That is, if we have learned the lessons from their sacrifice.


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