Youth group urges Palace to scrap revival of mandatory ROTC
Akbayan Youth on Friday called on Palace officials to scrap their plans of reviving the mandatory enforcement of Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in memory of Mark Welson Chua, a student of the University of Santo Tomas who exposed corruption within their ROTC program, leading to his murder and the passage of the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001 which rescinded ROTC as a pre-requisite to graduation.
“We hope Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo remembers how many young people fought for the abolition of mandatory ROTC in college, including Mark Chua who bravely exposed the corruption within their ROTC program and ended up giving his life for speaking truth against power,” said Akbayan Youth Chairperson Rafaela David.
The youth group also said that instead of instilling discipline and patriotism, the program only promoted bullying and violence in campuses, and even sexism and discrimination.
“At such a young age, ROTC exposes the youth to grueling and violent hazing practices, from physical to psychological abuse, to instill in them fear and blind obedience. Worse, it is their fellow youth who becomes perpetrators of this cyclical system of abuse. It is not love of country nor discipline that ROTC instills in the youth, but the greed for power and bullying,” David said.
“If you are physically weak, feminine or gay, ROTC will force you to ‘man up’! With premium on being ‘macho’, the ROTC openly discriminates against those who are weak or those who stand out of the mold of a standard cadet,” she added.
The group also urged the government to promote democratization within schools, and not militarization, which they said only silences the youth.
“The colleges and universities must be safe spaces for the youth, where they can learn how to responsibly use their freedoms and learn how to be active citizens. Government thus must promote other citizenship-based education courses and community service programs that instead empowers the youth to act and creatively express their solidarity with their fellow Filipinos, not programs such as the ROTC that seek to silence, disempower and force the youth to conformity” she concluded.
Akbayan Youth vowed to fight against efforts that would repeal the reforms achieved in making ROTC non-compulsory for college students.
Chua was a Mechanical Engineering student of UST and ROTC officer who divulged the irregularities within their organization to the university officials and publication. He received death threats for the act. His corpse was found floating in the Pasig River near Jones Bridge on March 18, 2001. Ma. Czarina A. Fernandez, INQUIRER.net trainee/CDG/rga
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