Reported hazing in DLSU’s cadet officer training program reignites call for ROTC abolition

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reported hazing incidents in the Cadet Officer Candidate Course (COCC) of the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) of the De La Salle University (DLSU) have renewed calls for the passage of a law that seeks to abolish ROTC.

DLSU student publication The La Sallian reported on Sunday that the COCC program of the university’s Naval ROTC has been “temporarily suspended for the rest of the term” while school investigations are ongoing for reported hazing incidents that involve no less than the ROTC corps commander.

The La Sallian reported that the investigations began last June, following several complaints received by the university’s Student Discipline Formation Office. One of the complaints was filed by the parents of a former cadet who was allegedly punched and locked in a cabinet by ROTC officers.

“It is alarming to note that the hazing incident in DLSU’s COCC program is the second reported ROTC-related violence for the year,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon noted.

Just this February, ROTC officials of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines figured in a incident involving three student cadets who allegedly suffered severe injuries due to corporal punishment in the said ROTC unit.

“Congress should stop treating reported incidents of ROTC-related violence as isolated cases. Along with the forthcoming congressional review of the Anti-Hazing Law, I believe that there is also a need for Congress to resume the deliberations of House Bill 3143, a bill that seeks to abolish ROTC while empowering other components of the National Service Training Program (NSTP),” said Ridon, who is the author of the said proposed law.

Filed last October, HB 3143 or the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Reform Bill seeks to completely abolish the ROTC while strengthening the NSTP through the establishment of additional socio-civic service programs.

“The continued proliferation of unexplainable violence in the ROTC fosters a culture of fear, violence and impunity in schools and universities, which are supposedly centers of free discourse, learning and progressive thought,” Ridon said.

The La Sallian noted in its report that the current case is “not the first time” that DLSU’s ROTC program was implicated for violent activities.

In 1995, just after the passage of the Anti-Hazing Law, DLSU mechanical engineering student and ROTC cadet Seth Lopez suffered severe injuries from alleged hazing activities, and was later declared dead on arrival.

“The DLSU case is just another proof that it is time for ROTC to go. In its place, we intend to expand the NSTP. What we need as a nation today is not an army of young men and women trained in violent ways but an army of volunteers and advocates ready to serve and uphold the needs of their communities and the nation as a whole,” Ridon said.

Ridon also noted that even in schools and campuses in the United States, ROTC is not required, and has even been shunned by many leading American colleges and universities including Ivy League schools due to the broad anti-war and anti-violence stance of educational institutions.