TWO DECADES AFTER:
Family of murdered ROTC whistleblower seeks to reopen case

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Mark Welson Chua has yet to get “full justice” for his murder 20 years ago.

“Justice was not fully served yet,” Mark’s mother, Amelita, told the Varsitarian.

Ang gusto ko sana ‘yong may kasalanan sa pagpatay sa kanya [kay Mark] would be given punishment. At least ‘yon man lang para may peace of mind sa amin.”

Mark, then 19 years old, was murdered by his fellow cadet officers in the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC). 

His body, dead and decomposing, was fished out of the Pasig River on March 18, 2001. The body was wrapped in a carpet, with the head wrapped in cloth and packing tape and hands and feet bound by shoelaces.

READ: ROTC whistleblower found dead 

He exposed practices of corruption, bribery and extortion in the ROTC unit of UST to the Varsitarian in 2001.

READ: Struggle against the system

In its February 2001 issue, the Varsitarian published the exposé of Mark and his fellow cadet, Romulo Yumul, which led to Maj. Demy Tejares’ relief from duty as commandant of the unit. Other Department of Military Science and Tactics officials were also relieved. 

Chua’s death caused uproar nationwide and led to the abolition of mandatory ROTC.

Amelita said she wanted the case reopened since Paul Tan and Michael Rainard Manangbao, two of the four persons implicated in Mark’s murder, remained at large. 

Ang gusto ko nga na mabuhay ‘yong kaso sana and makulong, mahuli ‘yong mga pumatay. ‘Yong iba nasa ibang bansa na, baka nga may mga pamilya, asawa at anak na siguro kasi 20 years ago na ‘yon,” she said.

Arnulfo Aparri, one of the accused, was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Eduardo Tabrilla, another accused, pleaded guilty to homicide in 2006.

‘Mark wanted ROTC’

Amelita said the government should guarantee a corruption-free ROTC if Congress wanted to make it mandatory again.

“Kung may corruption lang, bakit pa ibabalik, huwag na lang. Kapag ganon pa rin ‘yong sistema na bulok, huwag na lang. Wala pang masasaktan.”

Maski na personally ayoko, gusto ni Mark’ yong [ROTC], I have to stand by his side, kasi ‘yon ang dahilan kung bakit siya pinatay, ‘yong page-expose niya sa corruption and scalawags ng sistema. ROTC is not bad, the system and the persons behind ‘yon yong masasama [although] hindi naman lahat,” she added.

“UST itself should also be responsible. Hindi naman sila naging responsible noong time na ‘yon. Ang dami nilang sinabing papatayuan ng rebulto, lalagyan ng hall para sa name ni Mark, bibigyan ng kung ano-ano, pero never nilang ginawa ‘yon. Basta ang dami nilang sinabi, pero wala namang nangyari.” 

A total of 21 bills have been filed at the House of Representatives seeking to revive mandatory ROTC. 

Fourteen of the 21 bills propose mandatory ROTC in senior high school, or Grades 11 and 12, while the others seek to impose it on college students. The Senate has nine bills seeking to revive mandatory ROTC.

President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 called for the revival of mandatory ROTC. He renewed his call in his 2019 State of the Nation Address.

Itong mga bata ngayon, they are bereft of patriotism and the love of country. Balik sila dito. I think the military training will be good for everybody,” Duterte said.

House Speaker Lord Alan Velasco has listed mandatory ROTC among his priority measures.

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