A probe on the reported hazing committed by the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) officers of the state-run Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) has been pushed in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list made the pitch under his House Resolution No. 872 which tasks the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education to probe the reported acts of violence through hazing and/or corporal punishment committed by student officials of the ROTC unit of PUP against three student cadets, two of whom were female, last January 16.
Ridon filed the House Resolution in response to the revelation by 18-year-old female identified as Sheena that she was among the victims of such hazing. Sheena said she and two other cadets (a male and another female student) were ushered inside the armory of the PUP-ROTC unit by two of their superiors and were made to squat, and that their palms were hit by half-inch wooden sticks while wooden rifles were also slammed on their thighs several times inside the ROTC office in campus after they failed to attend a briefing the previous evening.
“This case of hazing and/or corporal punishment committed under the ROTC program paints a grim picture of reality: that more than a decade after the abolition of mandatory ROTC, the said military program continue to inflict harm upon students and perpetuate the culture of impunity in schools,” Ridon said in his House Resolution.
Sheena said that her palms were hit six times by a half-inch wooden stick, after she had to bear seven more beatings at the back of her thighs with a wooden rifle. Sheena said another female cadet went through this ordeal. The male cadet, meanwhile, was ordered to do squat thrusts and sing as the two female cadets were being beaten.
“If proven accurate, the recent incident reveals how up until now, ROTC still perpetrates sexism and machismo, human rights violations and ideological bigotry.
The congressional investigation would be “of utmost importance” as the House of Representatives is also currently deliberating whether to reinstate mandatory ROTC or totally abolish the program,” Ridon added.
The mandatory ROTC program for freshmen college students were abolished in 2001 as a result of the public outrage rooted in the death of Mark Wilson Chua, a University of Santo Tomas student who was killed by his superiors in the ROTC for exposing corruption among ROTC ranks.
The ROTC was replaced by the National Service Training Program, a scheme where a college freshman has the power to choose which program he would enlist in. The choices include: the ROTC, the Community Service Program (where students build houses and participate in various development projects for the poor) and the Literacy Training Service (where students serve as teachers of indigenous and other poor communities).
Despite the grim scenario brought by the Chua case, four pending bills seek to reinstate the mandatory ROTC program authored by Reps. Francis Gerald Abaya of Cavite, Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa, Erico Aumentado of Bohol and Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela.