IT HAS been 12 years of long suffering for the family and friends that Mark Welson Chua left behind. And a lot have happened since his killing—the mandatory Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) was abolished and one of his killers was sentenced to death in 2004 when the death penalty was still in existence.

But the ROTC continues to be demonized.

Even I as a freshman thought ill of the ROTC. When I was asked if I wanted to join ROTC in my first enrolment in UST, my answer was a resounding “no.”

Old relatives of mine loaded the gun as they would tell me stories of cruelties of their ROTC superiors and how they were forced to do degrading things based on the whims of their commanders.

I continued to harbor hostility against the ROTC until I was a sophomore enrolled in the Civil Welfare Training Service (CWTS) component of the National Service Training Program (NSTP). At the beginning of the semester, our instructor welcomed us with the “lively” story of how the NSTP came to be—how an idealistic Chua, an ROTC cadet himself, suffered a gruesome death in the hands of corrupt ROTC officers who silenced him for blowing the whistle on corruption in the corps. After receiving the same story the semester that followed, I realized that they had been repeating the horro story, with the very same tone, to students over and over again. And they’ve been doing this for years! It was as if they have unknowingly subjected the ROTC to an eternal Halloween—people adorning themselves with facts of the Chua murder, as children dress like ghosts and ghouls, and haunting the corps and the people around them for joining.

Tomasino, gagawing 'Beato' ng Simbahan

For the past few years, more students have been enlisting in the ROTC and they seem fine with it. A friend of mine, who is part of the Golden Corps, reformed my narrow mind.

But it is sad how people still unknowingly underrate the UST Golden Corps of Cadets.

When the queen of Spain came to visit, they were there, acting as her loyal bodyguards and escorting her wherever her royal feet treaded. Every Freshmen Walk and Baccalaureate Mass, they offer their undying service to this historic institution.

People’s stories of ROTC are sometimes exaggerated. Yes, ROTC officials did wrong in the Chua case and whether or not they are still doing wrong now may be beyond the point.

Chua was a victim of injustice. But is it also not a form of injustice to continue condemning members of ROTC for a crime belonging in the past?

Most of the men involved in Chua’s murder have not yet faced the consequences of their actions and there is a possibility that unless they are found and are tried under the due process of law, the institutions deeply affected by the passing of Chua will never see the ROTC in a different light.

Chua has done his university and his country a great service by dreaming and fighting for a cleaner system, and he will never be forgotten nor will we stop fighting for his justice, but it is time we took a breather and gave the ROTC one too.


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