Mandatory ROTC will mean more campus repression, military abuses against the youth – Anakbayan
“ROTC: salot sa kabataan! Tutulan at labanan!”
This was the call of youth group Anakbayan as it expressed its outrage today over a proposal to make ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) mandatory again for college and university students.
The ROTC was abolished in 2001 by nationwide youth protests after the death of University of Sto. Tomas and ROTC cadet Mark Chua from alleged hazing in the program.
“With the resurgence of campus protests against tuition and other fee increases, as well as other unjust policies by school administrations, we fear that the mandatory ROTC will be used as a weapon against students who are fighting for their rights” said Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce.
In the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman last 2006, suspected ROTC officers and SIN members distributed pamphlets which discouraged students from opposing the then-proposed 300% Tuition Fee Increase, accusing the leaders of the anti-fee increase protests as ‘recruiters for the New People’s Army’.
The same thing was done in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ Sta. Mesa campus in 2007. Student leaders who were active in opposing several administration policies, including the chairperson of the PUP Central Student Council, were portrayed as ‘NPA recruiters’ by crudely-written pamphlets distributed by ROTC officers and SIN agents.
In the UP Los Baños, pamphlets with similar content were distributed in the campus last July 29, hours after UPLB students walked out of their classes in protest against the UPLB administration’s policy of increasing the number of students per class in many subjects.
“An institution whose hands are stained with the blood of many youths shouldn’t even be allowed fifty meters near any campus. Haven’t they done enough with the killing and kidnapping of many of our fellow youth leaders?” added Dulce.
According to human rights group Karapatan, out of the 1,100+ cases of extra-judicial killings carried out by the military under Gloria Arroyo, 23 come from youth groups like Anakbayan, the League of Filipino Students, and Kabataan Partylist. Three members of Anakbayan are also included in the 300+ cases of enforced disappearances under Arroyo.
The youth leader meanwhile twitted the military for its ‘sales pitch’ for the mandatory ROTC, calling it ‘a hard sell which fools no one’.
“The military’s perverted primitive and barbaric ideology has lost all its appeal to the youth. This is the only way they can get anyone to listen to them: by forcing people to do so” he said.