From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 17): Filipino youth group rejects proposal to revive mandatory college military training
Anakbayan strongly criticized a government proposal to bring back mandatory military training for university students.
The Filipino youth group branded the proposal of Defense chief Voltaire Gazmin "useless and harmful." Gazmin proposed to bring back the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Course program.
"There's a reason why it was scrapped in the first place. It's like the appendix in our bodies: serves no purpose or benefit for students, and in fact it even harms them, both physically and non-physically" Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan, said in a statement sent to the the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
Crisostomo said the mandatory ROTC was scrapped in 2001 after several months of campus protests, including a 10,000-strong student march to then-president Gloria Arroyo's first State of the Nation Address due to the murder of ROTC cadet Mark Chua.
Chua, a student at the prestigious University of Santo Tomas, was killed because he exposed corruption and other illegal activities within the program.
"ROTC is esssentially the militarization of campuses. It allows the Armed Forces to circumvent prohibitions of their presence in schools, they recruit assets to spy and terrorize student leaders, and their training reduces students to the zombie-like military mindset of shoot first, ask questions later," Crisostomo said.
"The way officers humiliate, brutalize, and even maim cadets in the guise of training is nothing short of the violation of basic human rights. Also, the ROTC program is a haven for corruption, with officers and teachers making money out of the students who have been bludgeoned into submission," he added.
Anakbayan also called on students to stay vigilant, especially with the start of the 16th Congress' session next month, in which bills to bring back mandatory ROTC might be at the forefront of President Aquino's so-called priority legislation.