Akbayan Youth today appealed to palace officials not to push through with their plans to revive the compulsory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for college students in memory of Mark Chua, the student from University of Santo Tomas who exposed corruption in the ROTC program and whose murder led to the passage of the "National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001" which rescinded ROTC as a pre-requisite to graduation.
"We hope Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo remembers how many young people fought for the abolition of mandatory ROTC in college, including Mark Chua who bravely exposed the corruption within their ROTC program and ended up giving his life for speaking truth against power," said Rafaela "Paeng" David, Chairperson of Akbayan Youth.
The youth group emphasized that instead of instilling discipline and patriotism, ROTC instead promoted bullying and violence in campuses. "At such a young age, ROTC exposes the youth to grueling and violent hazing practices, from physical to psychological abuse, to instill in them fear and blind obedience. Worse, it is their fellow youth who becomes perpetrators of this cyclical system of abuse. It is not love of country nor discipline that ROTC instills in the youth, but the greed for power and bullying." added David.
David also said that the program will only promote sexism and discrimination among the youth.
"If you are physically weak, feminine or gay, ROTC will force you to 'man up'! With premium on being 'macho', the ROTC openly discriminates against those who are weak or those who stand out of the mold of a standard cadet," David said.
The youth groups lastly urged government to instead bolster democratization within the school, not militarization.
"The colleges and universities must be safe spaces for the youth, where they can learn how to responsibly use their freedoms and learn how to be active citizens. Government thus must promote other citizenship-based education courses and community service programs that instead empowers the youth to act and creatively express their solidarity with their fellow Filipinos, not programs such as the ROTC that seek to silence, disempower and force the youth to conformity." concluded David.
Akbayan Youth has actively pushed for the abolition of the ROTC and has vowed to fight against efforts that seek to backtrack the reforms already achieved in making ROTC non-compulsory for college students.