A left-leaning student group on Wednesday denounced the return of a mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) for Senior High School (Grades 11 and 12) students.
“The students stood up against the ROTC program. Through protests and collective actions, mandatory ROTC was removed from college. We have voiced opposition against the proposals of reviving it in college. But even President [Rodrigo] Duterte had the gall to approve the program in Grades 11 and 12. This is unacceptable. It is an insult to the victims of the violent program and the students who fought against it,” JP Rosos, national spokesman for the League of Filipino Students (LFS), said in a statement after Duterte on Tuesday approved the ROTC’s return.
“The ROTC is bankrupt to its core. It instills fear and blind obedience stemming from its fascist and corrupt nature. It must never be revived,” Rosos added.
He said it is foolish to think that ROTC through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can teach nationalism.
“The ROTC through the AFP can never instill genuine love for the country. The AFP is the same institution that celebrates the incursions and violations of our national sovereignty committed by US imperialism and its allies. It is even the first one to defend the port visits and military exercises of US troops in Philippine territory. Worse, the AFP proudly defended the basing of US forces inside our country through EDCA [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] and other lopsided agreements. What love for the country can the AFP teach when they are the ones who welcome the re-occupation of foreign entities in the Philippines?” Rosos added.
According to him, the ROTC holds an abusive and violent history.
He pointed out that the core of the program relies on physical, verbal and psychological abuse.
“The ROTC is far from instilling discipline. Through abuse and violence, it instills fear and blind obedience, not any sort of discipline,” Rosos said, adding that the program has always led to countless infringement of student rights.
He recalled the case of Mark Welson Chua from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.
Chua was killed after he exposed corruption in the ROTC at the university.
Rosos added the case of two female students from the state-run Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 2014.
He narrated that these students suffered hazing and corporal punishment from their officers.
Rosos cited video of student cadets from the University of Mindanao-Tagum who were being punched repeatedly in the chest and stomach.
“Several cases are being reported that student cadets are being violated and abused by their officials. This is not discipline, just plain violence and abuse of power. The ROTC is nothing but fascist machinery that needs to be taken down,” he said.
Through the ROTC, according to him, military troops are allowed to enter universities and colleges violating the LFS-DND [Department of National Defense] Accord.
He said some military personnel also go as far as basing themselves in schools that violates various international humanitarian laws.
“It is also foolish to think that such violent and abusive program will be able to teach discipline and love for the country. It is impossible,” Rosos added.
“If the government really wants to teach love for the country and instill patriotism, then the government should give more time in discussing the history of the Filipino people and our struggle for national liberation. Also, a fascist program like the ROTC can never teach critical thinking to our students – a necessary skill needed for the patriotic spirit to flourish among the youth,” he said. NEIL A. ALCOBER