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We, student councils, publications, organizations, formations in universities and colleges, and concerned citizens all over the Philippines, call on President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his position on making the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory. Furthermore, we stand firm that ROTC must be abolished to stop the mercenary traditions of the military and Philippine army inside universities and colleges.

President Duterte qualified the need “to instill love of country and good citizenship” to strengthen the ROTC program. However, what the current administration forgot to acknowledge are the inherent practices and traditions in the said program that imparts violence, culture of impunity, and reactionary stance against students and youths who are just tirelessly fighting for the youth and Filipino people’s basic human rights.

Utilizing campuses as military training grounds are inconsistent with International Humanitarian Law and treaties, e.g. Enrile-Sotto Accord in the University of the Philippines, which prohibit the use of academic institutions for military purposes. ROTC also is in violation with Republic 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, which affirms that schools, hospitals, and rural health units shall not be used for military purposes.

ROTC is explicitly used as avenue for military personnel and officers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct operations in universities in the guise of lecture classes as to red-tag organizations, fraternities, student councils and school publications. It is also through ROTC that the Students Intelligence Network (SIN) was established to monitor the actions of progressive student and youth leaders, hence, violating students’ democratic rights. The ROTC program still continues to pose a threat for the students to exercise their democratic rights, particularly to express and organize.

The AFP also inculcates the military culture of corruption and political patronage, sexism and machismo, human rights violations, and ideological bigotry through ROTC, which is inconsistent with academic freedom and is detrimental to the development of the youth.

Making ROTC mandatory is injustice for the victims of the said program. From the inception of the ROTC program, cases of harassments and abuses were reported. In 2001, a UST student, Mark Welson Chua, was brutally murdered after exposing the corruption and abuses in the program. In 2014, students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and De La Salle University exposed the violence and hazing instigated to new cadets by ROTC officials. Recently, cadets from the University of Mindanao – Tagum Campus suffered verbal and physical abuses in the said program.  Compulsory ROTC will just increase and further intensify the desecration of the students’ democratic rights and welfare.

Collectively, we must fight for a scientific, nationalist, and mass-oriented education as alternative to the current colonial, commercialized, and fascist educational system in order to strengthen the love of country, good citizenship, and nationalism among students. If the government wants to produce citizens who have the aforementioned traits, making ROTC mandatory is not the solution; rather, a total overhaul of the current educational system is needed.

We call on President Duterte to heed the students’ call not to make ROTC mandatory and abolish ROTC as an educational program. We enjoin all student councils, publications, organizations, and formations in universities and colleges all over the country to join the campaign to oppose the administration’s plan to revive the mandatory ROTC. In line with this, we encourage every student council, publication, organization, formation, and individual to take part in the activities, fora, congressional hearings and protest actions to be set by the alliance regarding the issue of ROTC. It is only through our collective and militant efforts that can we achieve victory in this fight against violence and fascism in the Philippine educational system.

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