Youth group fears ROTC talk will lead to militarization, culture of impunity in schools

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2018 05:43 PM

MANILA - A youth group on Monday expressed fears that President Rodrigo Duterte's recent declaration of reviving the mandatory Reserved Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) will lead to the spread of a "flawed" military culture of impunity in campuses.

"Malaki 'yung takot ng Kabataan Partylist na itong pagrerevive ng ROTC, bukod pa sa fact na naipabasura na natin ito noon dahil nga sa flawed na culture na dala, natatakot tayo na pag dinala ito sa loob ng eskwelahan at nirevive ito bilang mandatory ay lalo lamang ma-militarize 'yung mga schools natin, lalo lamang mapalaganap ang culture of impunity, lalo lamang humigpit 'yun surveillance sa mga estudyante natin at marepress ang kanilang democratic rights," Kabataan Partylist national president Angelica Reyes said on the sidelines of Tanggol Wika's filing of a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court questioning its ruling upholding the exclusion Filipino and panitikan as core subjects in the college curriculum.

Reyes cited recent efforts by the President to "militarize" the government by appointing officials with military background and his memorandum order increasing cops and soldiers deployed in Bicol, Samar and Negros Island.

She also referred to the supposed Red October plot where the Armed Forces of the Philippines tagged 18 universities and schools as supposed recruitment grounds for communist rebels -- a move, which she claimed, is only a pretext to illegal arrest and murder.

"Alam natin na mayroon talagang umiiral na malalang culture of impunity. Libu-libo na ang napapatay na kababayan natin at karamihan diyan mga mahihirap na kabataan," she said.

Reyes rejected government officials' assurance that random checks will be conducted to prevent hazing, a problem that once plagued the ROTC.

"Hindi po enough 'yan. Ilang beses na po 'yang sinabi sa atin ng gobyerno, kahit sa mandatory drug testing di ba sabi may mga safeguard at confidentiality? 'Yung mga random testing na ganyan, sa PNP nga mismo hindi yan ma-implement. Sinabi nga sa PNP, di ba 'yun nakaraan? 'Yun sinabi na usual na sa kanila 'yung rape for freedom na scenario?" she asked.

"At alam natin na napaka-prevalent ng culture ng sexual harrassment, ng physical abuse sa ROTC at hindi 'yun matatanggal ng basta-basta dahil lang sa checking lalo pa sa kasalukyang set-up na meron tayo na kung saan talagang malala ang power-tripping nitong mga armed personnel ng ating state. So hindi po tayo naniniwala na masasafeguard itong mga students dahil sa mga checking na 'yan. Ang pinakamakakapigil pa rin sa mga fears na ito ay yung opposition natin sa pag-iimplement again, pagrerevive ng mandatory ROTC," she said.