Senate minority warns vs ROTC revival following new hazing death

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 03 2023 03:26 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2023 03:05 AM

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MANILA (UPDATE)— Senators from the minority bloc on Friday urged fellow lawmakers to stop pushing for the revival of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program following the death of Adamson University student John Matthew Salilig due to alleged hazing.

"I have been consistently calling for the reconsideration of the revival of the mandatory ROTC program even before the death of John Matthew Salilig. Now, that call is even clearer," Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said "there is no compelling justification to revive the mandatory ROTC program," considering that the country faces other much urgent crises.

"In times of economic and education crises, spending billions of pesos on ROTC is a waste of precious taxpayers' money. Government spending should go instead to programs that address learning poverty, losses, and gaps," she said.

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel also echoed Hontiveros' view.

"Scrap the bill making ROTC mandatory. Make it only optional to those who are 'militarily inclined' or interested in military matters," Pimentel said.

Sen. Nancy Binay also gave a similar statement, highlighting that ROTC was "flawed to the core."

"I believe we all agree that the culture of violence has no place in a civilized society. 'Di ba, the reasons why the ROTC program was suspended were because of corruption, abuse and hazing? It's so hard to understand, align and reconcile love of country with a training course that is flawed to the core," Binay said.

However, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, the main champion of the measure, described the calls as "desperate."

"What a desperate move from anti-ROTC leftist group. What is the connection? The victim died because of fraternity hazing and not of ROTC training," Dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa was backed by fellow senators Jinggoy Estrada and Sherwin Gatchalian, who found no connection between hazing violence and ROTC.

"The goal of ROTC is to inculcate discipline and good citizenship among the youth. It is precisely incidents like these that ROTC intends to eliminate by molding our youth to respect our country and one another," Gatchalian said.

"It should be emphasized that the purpose of the ROTC training is to provide the youth with the necessary skills not only in military aspect but more importantly in disaster preparedness and response to calamities... Hindi kailangan mangyari ang hazing sa ilalim ng ROTC program at hindi natin papayagan na isagawa ito sa ilalim ng panukalang ROTC program," Estrada said.

The body of Salilig was found Tuesday at a remote site in Cavite, after a fraternity member involved in his initiation ceremony led police investigators to the area where his body was buried. 

The frat member claimed Salilig was hit at least 70 times and was no longer responsive while on board a vehicle.


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