ROTC perpetuates culture of blind obedience, impunity—student group
A students’ group on Wednesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval to revive the Reserved Officers Training Course (ROTC) for Grades 11 and 12, noting that the program’s history was laden with “corruption, violence, and abuse.”
In a statement, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) said the ROTC program was “nothing more than a fascist tool of repression used by the state to instill a militaristic mindset among the Filipino youth.”
“The Filipino students have nothing to gain from this proposal. Contrary to the claims of its advocates, the ROTC program does not teach nationalism and discipline to students. Rather it seeks to perpetuate a culture of blind obedience and impunity that is inherent to the program. The explicitly fascist and feudal relations between officers and cadets is a testament to this,” said NUSP spokesperson Mark Vincent Lim.
“Since its inception, it has continuously violated the democratic and academic rights of Filipino students,” Lim added.
In a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Duterte approved the filing of a bill by the Department of National Defense seeking to amend Republic Act No 7077 or the Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act and revive mandatory ROTC.
ROTC was made optional in 2002 through Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001. Calls to abolish the ROTC were fueled by the killing of University of Santo Tomas sophomore cadet Mark Welson Chua in 2001 after he exposed corruption in the UST-ROTC.
But despite the abolishment of the ROTC, Lim lamented that the “culture of violence and violence still [continue].” He cited hazing reports at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 2014 and at the University of Mindanao last year, including allegations of sexual abuse at Benguet State University’s ROTC program.
“This latest policy is especially bothersome once we put it into the context of the Duterte administration’s series of extra judicial killings and intensifying fascism. Its so-called war on drugs, the cancellation of the GRP-NDFP peace talks, and now this,” Lim said.
“All of these seek to create an atmosphere of fear among the Filipino people. We call on youth and students to mobilize and show our opposition in mandatory ROTC,” he added. CDG
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