Screengrab from Aksyon TV

(Editor’s Note: This story was published in line with the 18th death anniversary of Mark Welson Chua, the UST student who disclosed to the Varsitarian the corruption in the University’s ROTC program.)

COMBATING the alleged corruption and inefficiency of UST’s Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) program appears a futile task better left undone.

Through the years, most ROTC cadets have complained that they would sit for hours each training Sunday just to get burned under the sun while learning almost nothing.

Despite fulfilling the attendance requirements and paying numerous fees, some cadets would even get unexplained failing grades at the end of the semester.

Moreover, charges of bribery and extortion have not dissipated considering the changes in ROTC leadership and promises of reform.

Just a year ago, the Varsitarian published a special report on the alleged anomalies in the ROTC and the Department of Military Science and Tactics (DMST). But the problems could not be fully addressed since no formal complaints were made.

This time, however, a group of cadets decided to speak out and take action. Late last December, Mark Welson Chua and Romulo Yumul, sophomores from the Faculty of Engineering, filed a complaint with the Department of National Defense (DND) which was given due course by the National Capital Region – Regional Community Defense Group (NCR-RCDG).

The complaint alleged the rampant corruption in the UST-ROTC. It was supported by the complaints of other basic cadets. The move resulted in the dismissal of the UST-ROTC commandant, Maj. Demy Tejares, after an exhaustive investigation.

Forced Payments
​Most of the complaints were financial in nature, particularly the questionable collection of a P250 fee upon enrollment during the first semester of this school year apart from the P300 ROTC fee.

Sabi nila(administration staff) para daw sa  [army] patches. Hindi ka papayagang mag- enroll hangga’t di ka nagbabayad ng P250,” Yumul said in an interview.

Tejares said that even though the patches were required by the Army Reserve Command, purchase of the patches upon enrollment was not compulsory.

“I made it clear to them (administration staff) that the uniform or a part of that uniform is not a pre-requisite for enrollment,” he explained.

However, some cadets complained that they did not receive the patches they paid for. “Every week after [training], pumupunta ako dun(DMST office) to claim the patches. I think, five weeks akong nagpabalik-balik, wala akong nakuha ni isang patch. Walang nangyari,” said Ronan Barrientos, a cadet from the Rifle Brigade.

For the second semester, the cadets were again charged P20 for registration, aside from the ROTC fee.

According to Genesis Binagatan, DMST staff administrator, the registration fee was used to buy materials for the cadets’ files such as folders, envelopes and attendance cards. He explained that the expenses could not be taken from the ROTC fee because it was not included in the budget of the DMST for the school year.

Aside from these, cadets were also charged other fees. According to Chua, officers required the cadets to buy attendance cards on the first training Sunday, with prices ranging from P10 to P20.​

Napipilitan lang silang(cadets) magbayad kasi kailangan talaga ‘yung attendance card,” he added.

Cadets were also asked to pay P10 each time they take preliminary and final exams.

But Tejares said the materials were given for free. He even reprimanded the cadet officers and ordered them to return the money to the cadets. But the cadets said they never received their money back.
​Chua also included in the complaint the mandatory sale of ROTC manuals in December last year.

For two consecutive training Sundays, Binagatan, allegedly claiming he was under the orders by Tejares, reportedly compelled the cadets to buy the manuals.

Alexander Jon Bautista, a second year Engineering student, said Binagatan’s instructions were contradictory. “Ang sabi niya, ‘hindi ko kayo pinipilit[bumili], pero pag nag-inspection kamithe following meeting, ‘pag wala kayo [ngmanual],demerits ang makukuha niyo.’”

Some cadets tried to complain. Vincent Llana, a sophomore from the Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB), said, “Pumunta kami kay Sir Binagatan. [Sabi namin] ‘Sir, walang pera. ‘Yung iba pamasahe lang ang pera.’ Biglang nagalit sa amin. [Sabi niya] ‘Anong walang pamasahe? Sinabi ko yan sa inyo, dapat bumili kayo.’”

Some of those who did not buy the manual had to face the consequences. Binagatan allegedly discharged all sophomore military police (MP) cadets for not buying the manual.

College of Science student Gian Manuel, MP officer-in-charge, said Binagatan even threatened to transfer their classcards to the basic rifle infantry as punishment.

But when training resumeed in January, Manie and his fellow MPs found out that it was just a verbal threat because they retained their posts.

Tejares denied giving instructions that the manuals were compulsory.

Binagatan also denied forcing the cadets to buy the manual. He said the manuals were sold to cover the lack of training due to shortage of instructors. He emphasized though that the students need to buy the material.

He said even cadet officers approved the sale of the manuals. “In fact, ang ikinagagalit ng cadet officers, gusto nilang ibenta ngP150 ‘yan. Pero ayaw ni Major Tejares.”

True enough, Corps Commander Erwin Cudiamat said the cadet officers approved the sale of the manuals. It was supposed to be sold at P150 because it would contain lectures for four military science courses but was later sold for only P100. They found out, however, that the manuals covered only one course.


Aside from alleged extortion, Chua also accused the DMST of bribery. He said some students who want to be exempt from the course usually pay some officials a standard price of P1,500 per semester. Some even pay higher depending on the arrangement.

Peter Reyes, a sophomore Education student, said he knows some students who paid for exemption. “Normally, ‘yung mga nagbabayad, ‘yung mga nasa mahihirap na courses [like] Engineering, Nursing,” he explained.

But when he tried to ask them whom they paid, the students refused to reveal the names, “Baka daw magkaroon ng kaso, matanggal ‘yung taong yon, sila [ang] kawawa. Baka ‘yung binayad nila walang mangyari.”

Tejares also denied the bribery charges. “I am also a member of the NCR-RCDG Exemption Board. I sign for exemption, there is no payment. You cannot pay, because there is a doctor [who certifies the exemption].”

On the contrary, Paul Tan, a former cadet officer, said that the Commandant was aware of these activities. He said that Tejares once told them: “Alam ko naman kayong mga[cadet] officers, may nagpapabayad sa inyo. Bigyan ninyo naman kami ng kahit konti, pampakain lang namin.”

Inefficient instruction

Cadets also complained about the alleged inefficient ROTC instruction. Only a few cadets receive lectures while most spend idle hours under the sun.

Tejares said that the large number of cadets made it difficult to ensure efficient instruction.

Tejares added that they lacked instructors. Since they could not assign any person who did not have mastery of the program of instruction, cadet officers employed a system of rotation to accommodate all the cadets.

According to Tejares, they also tried to request for the use of classrooms since 1998 for the lectures, but they were not allowed by the UST administration.


Most cadets who complained of the inefficiency in the handling of their ROTC grades. Most of the time, they said, their grades at the DMST did not reconcile with the grades recorded at the Registrar’s Office.

Reyes said that he got a grade of 2.5 For his MS 12 subject last school year. But the grade recorded in his transcript was 3. Some even had failing grades in their transcripts.

However, Tejares explained that such discrepancies are due to human error. According to him, the tedious manual process of transferring grades from computer records to the registrar is prone to mistakes. Because of this, he extended the period of verification of grades from one week to three weeks after the last training Sunday.


Perhaps the gravest complaint included in the letter was the alleged gunpointing incident involving Binagatan and Tan.

According to Tan, the incident happened during the fifth training Sunday of the first semester. At that time, he was relieved from his designation because he did not attend the previous training days. AB student Eliseo Pitargue, a cadet officer who was then handling about 20 cadets in the School for Cadet Officers (SCOs), asked for help because he could not accommodate all of them. Tan took command of some SCOs and gave them physical exercises. Then, Binagatan interfered.

“He [Binagatan] didn’t even ask me if I had authorization. He confronted me on that very instant. Minura niya ako. [But] I answered him back, ‘Sir don’t you know that you are not supposed to do that in front of these cadets? I am a superior officer. That’s the basic in military leadership,’” Tan explained.

After that, Binagatan brought out a .45 caliber pistol from his car. “He was very angry Then, he cocked his gun, and then pointed it at me,” Tan said.

Binagatan’s wrath also fell upon another cadet officer, Arnulfo Aparri, who was standing near him. “Instead of being afraid, he [Aparri] made a mockery out of it. He laughed at what Binagatan did. Then, Binagatan went into the office and called Aparri.”

When he went out, Aparri said Binagatan slapped him, Tan added.

“The commandant (Tejares) arrived later that morning. He called me and told me, ‘You get out of here or I’ll kick your butt.’ Without any due process or papers.”

Binagatan denied the allegations. “Hindi ko talaga tututukan. [Nag-criminology] ako. ‘Pag tinutukan ko ang isang tao, puputok ko na. Pareho lang ng kaso ‘yong gun-toting at saka frustrated murder.”

Still, he admitted that he was angry with Tan. “During that time, suspendido siTan. He was suspended by Mayor Tejaros due to alleged maltreatment [of] his cadet officers,” he explained.

Suspension meant that Tan did not have the authority to punish the cadets by making them perform the squat thrust, a physical exercise which is a combination of a squat and a push-up.

According to Binagatan, when he saw Tan punishing the SCOs, he confronted him and ordered the SCOs to rest near Beato Angelico. But Tan allegedly violated his orders because he took command and punished them again.

Naisip ko, itong mga batang ‘to karatista, lalaban sakin ‘to. So kinuha ko ‘yong baril ko. Sabi ko, ‘Sinong matapang dito, bakit ayaw niyo ‘kong sundin?’” Binagatan said.

When asked about it, Tejares said he was unaware that such an incident took place.


Binagatan said some orders coming from the Commandant might have been misinterpreted by the cadet officers. When orders were passed down the chain of command, he said certain instructions might have been added or deducted by the time they reached the basic cadets, thus leading to misunderstandings and conflicts.

According to Binagatan, Tejares even warned his staff administrators: “Never kayong gagawa ng anomaly dito. Ang tingnan niyo ‘yong cadet officers dahil diyan tayo nasisira.” He added that he has evidence that corruption in the UST-ROTC comes from the cadet officers.

However, Cudiamat stressed that the cadet officers only handle the training of the basic cadets. If the cadets have complaints or if they encounter problems in the course, the cadet officers can only conduct investigations and submit their findings to the Commandant. Since they follow the chain of command, they can go no further unless orders are issued by the staff administrators or the Commandant himself.

Cudiamat said they do not have anything to do with the anomalies in the DMST. “[Baka] ibigay sa amin ‘yong sisi, na cadet officers ang nagpapa-implement, cadet officers ang naniningil. Pagdating diyan hindi na kami nakikialam, para kung ano man ang mangyari, wala kaming pananagutan.”

Although the regulations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) state that the ROTC is a joint responsibility of the University and the AFP, UST has limited authority over the case.

According to Faculty of Civil Law professor Philip Aguinaldo, legal counsel of the University, the ROTC is a unit treated separately from UST. If there are complaints against the cadet officers, necessary sanctions will be based on the students’ handbook. “We shall be charging them as students of the University, not as officers of ROTC,” he said. However, he said, complaints against the DMST staff are beyond the University’s jurisdiction since they are under the authority of the NCR-RCDG.

Trust and confidence

Immediately after the complaint reached the office of the commandant, Tejares relieved Binagatan of his position.

After a series of investigations by the DND and the NCR-RCDG, Tejares was relieved of his office as UST-ROTC Commandant last Jan. 16. The post was formally assumed by Capt. Rodolfo Batang during the turn-over ceremonies last Jan. 28.

While most of the complaints were against Binagatan, Tejares was relieved due to command responsibility. “One thing important in the military is we are all team players,” NCR-RCDG Group Commander Col. Froilan Maglaya said. “If I was the center of the wheel and he was one of the cogs there, he was a very important cog as my G2 (intelligence officer). But when trust and confidence is gone, I cannot trust you anymore. The trust was broken.”

Despite the change in the command level, many are taking a wait-and-see attitude. The complete transformation of a graft-prone system requires the joint effort of the basic cadets, the cadet officers, and the DMST administration. Just as Filipinos need to be vigilant with the new government, cadets need to stay on guard to restore and maintain the honor and glory of the once famed UST Golden Corps of Cadets. Jayme Emerald C. Brucal


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