Anakbayan slams ROTC abuses in BSU


BAGUIO CITY — The regional formation of youth group Anakbayan in the Cordillera expresses concern on the continuous human rights violations committed by Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) officers against its low-ranking cadets in Benguet State University (BSU).

Reports gathered by members of Anakbayan in BSU from a former cadet revealed a series of physical and sexual abuses since his first year in the program until he quit on his second year as a cadet.

The former cadet complained about the regular physical torture he suffered every night in the barracks inside the university campus.

“Basta sinusuntok kami sa tiyan tapos pinagsasalsal kami… tapos pinapalo nila puwit namin ng rifle (We were punched in the stomach and we were forced to masturbate… then they whip our buttocks with a rifle),” said the victim in a text message.

According to him, it became common for high-ranking ROTC officials in BSU to command trainees to masturbate. Moreover they will be further tortured if they fail to ejaculate.

From around a hundred trainees in their batch when he enrolled in ROTC, only two stayed to finish the program because of these incidents, he said.

While the alleged torture is extreme, Luke Bagangan, secretary general of Anakbayan Cordillera, described this case as an “open secret” in BSU.

“This is not new in both private and public universities here in Baguio and Benguet. It has happened before and continues to this day,” Bagangan said.

The youth leader cited that in 1999, Arthur Salero, an ROTC cadet in Saint Louis University died because of ROTC hazing.

Two reported cases of hazing also happened in the University of the Cordilleras in 1999 and 2000 while another happened in University of the Philippines Baguio also in 2000.

The group further claimed that that there are more hazing incidents but have not yet been documented. “In BSU, for example, most are afraid to file complaints since this may put them at risk. Also, potential complainants are being threatened by the removal of their benefits such as scholarships, or with an automatic failure of the course, and even death threats,” explained Bagangan.

Despite this, his group is urging victims in BSU to file complaints against the abusive ROTC office beause it is the right thing to do, and for the sake of future cadets, and to support the national campaign to abolish the ROTC program.

It can be noted that Kabataan Partylist earlier filed House Bill 2399, which aims to abolish the ROTC.

“Aside from posing a great deal of physical and mental harm on the students, the ROTC is an additional cost to the parents for requirements like ROTC uniforms. It also kills the capability to free thinking, creativity and enthusiasm of the youth by conditioning them to just take orders without question. This blind obedience also tolerates corruption, a practice that continues to plague the Armed Forces today,” said Bagangan. #