THE UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas led the University Belt Consortium in calling for the abolition of the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. But in adopting this semester only the Military Training Service (MTS), the military component of the National Service Training Program (NSTP), the new law that defangs the ROTC and makes it optional, the University has been forced to eat its words.

In contrast, other colleges and universities that were not exactly in the thick of the fight against ROTC have been able to drop ROTC this semester and adopt the non-military component of the NSTP.

Under the NSTP Act of 2001, ROTC was replaced with NSTP. NSTP will offer three programs: MTS or ROTC, Community Welfare Service (CWS) and Literacy Training Service (LTS).

Authorities in UST said there was not enough time to implement the civilian component and provide student options other than the military component.

But other schools have been able to implement the civilian options with not much lead-time. Even more surprising, UST implemented last semester a civic welfare program as an option against ROTC. Why wasn’t it able to provide an option to the new enrollees this semester?

A survey of the University Belt shows that most schools have been able to implement the civilian component of the NSTP.

The Far Eastern University (FEU) offers only Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS). An official from its Institute of Nursing said that the school adopted CWTS after it scrapped MTS since no one wanted to enroll in the military component. FEU was a member of the University Belt Consortium, which signed beside UST the controversial statement calling for the abolition of ROTC last year.

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San Beda College also offers CWS only. The Philippine Women University offers the two civilian components — CWS and Literacy Training Service (LTS). Mapua University offers MTS and CWS. De La Salle University offers all the components.

Shocked

The 2002–2003 freshmen of UST might have thought that with the implementation of NSTP, they would be given options other than ROTC. But many were shocked to find out that the school that headed the campaign to abolish the ROTC could only offer only more of the same.

In a way, some campus leaders felt a sense of betrayal for the failure of the administration to implement the civilian components of the NSTP. They said the failure was an insult to the memory of Mark Chua, the UST Engineering student who was murdered after exposing the corruption in the ROTC.

Chua’s murder sparked wide public outrage that resulted in the call to abolish the ROTC.

According to Prof. Rodolfo Clavio, the University’s registrar, the University offered only MTS because the freshmen were seen as an “adjustment batch.” “The students are not ready to assume participation in the CWTS and the LTS,” he said.

(Col. Meliton Sangria, the Commandant of UST-Department of Military Science and Tactics, refused to be interviewed.)

According to Pharmacy freshman Paula Joson, she went to the DMST office to defer her NSTP next year when the CWS will be offered. She added a DMST official informed her that more than 3, 000 students had already deferred, most of them male students.

However, some students are taking up CWTS. These are the ones left from last year’s batch. In order to respond to the clamor for an optional program, UST hastily organized the CWTS program last year. Many are wondering why it didn’t do so for the freshmen this year.

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In addition to the program mentioned, the University also attempted to implement the Law Enforcement Service (LES) program. Unfortunately, the LES program did not materialize due to Senate President Franklin Drilon’s suggestion to replace LES with LTS.

According to Dr. Evelyn Songco, assistant to the rector on student affairs, the University deferred the CWTS and the LTS programs because the University has to prepare for them.

Songco added that the modules of CWTS and LTS are being developed. Some staff and faculty members of the Office for Student Affairs and the College of Education have been chosen to take charge of the programs. They are also attending seminars and workshops in order to prepare for the management of CWTS and LTS.

No problem

Jem Madriaga, a first-year Communication Arts student, said that he has no problem with taking up the military component of the NSTP.

He explained the sessions consisted of drills and lectures on intelligence reports and military communication.

According to Madriaga, Sunday training starts at 7 a.m. and ends at noon. During breaks, they are allowed to go outside the campus to buy food. The assembly area is at the Engineering Complex where male and female cadets are segregated.

He claims he is treated well by both male and female cadet officers. “Hindi naman kami masyadong sinisigawan pero strict din sila when it comes to the haircut. ‘Yung mga babae naman, binibilad din at pinagpa-pumping sila.”

Patrick Natural, a Psychology freshman and a member of the model platoon, says they are not given lectures.

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“Puro drills, marching at rifle drills ang ginagawa namin. Meron din kaming special program na disaster relief preparation. Tungkol ito sa first aid,” he said.

During training, the women are given lighter exercises. “Kaming mga lalaki pinapagawa nila nang squat thrust at bombers. At ‘yung mga babae, pumpings naman. Hindi nga sila puwedeng tumakbo. Kumbaga, ang pinakamahirap nilang nadanasan ay yung binilad sa araw.”

But for campus activists, the inclusion of women in the NSTP has caused some problems. The Alliance of Concerned Thomasians warned against the prevalence of sexual harassment of female cadets.

The activist group cited four female cadets at the Lyceum University of the Philippines who complained of sexual abuse and attempted rape by an NSTP officer. It called for the abolition of the NSTP. Billy Joe I. Allardo, John Carlo B. Bautista, Maria Pacita C. Joson and Wilson A. Pelingen

1 COMMENT

  1. Good day po!
    I just wanted to know if very strict po ba sa haircut sa ROTC? Is it the usual 2 by 3 cut or shorter?

    So if I will take the ROTC, do I need to sport a very short hair like those of the officers or I can follow what the conforme said na “Haircut for male must not touch the collar’?

    thanks!!

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