Home > ADROTH Project > ROTC in the Philippines > ROTC Crisis of 2001
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The ROTC Crisis of 2001 was arguably the single most significant event in post-Martial Law ROTC history. Its impact on the nature of the program was dramatically unique.

Discontent over ROTC -- its content, conduct, the competence of its training staff and the corruption that often plagued its individual units -- had been well known for years. Casual surfing of Filipino student websites often reveal short essays or articles about the perceived pointlessness of the program. Student groups also occasionally took up the matter in their roster of grievances.

Politicians were keenly aware of this reservoir of resentment, and periodically came out with bills, resolutions, or even just simple press statements declaring their intention to abolish ROTC. Thus keeping alive hopes that ROTC would one day be finally abolished.

Lip-service efforts to change the program were made, such as the Expanded ROTC program which provided a Civil Welfare service option. Little, however, was done to implement it.

Things came to a head when the often repeated officer's training joke "squealer must die" took on a new meaning at the University of Santo Tomas -- the cradle of school-based military education in the Philippines. In what is widely regarded as retaliation for a corruption expose that he made with a fellow cadet, Cadet Sergeant Major Mark Welson Chua was brutally murdered, allegedly by members of the UST ROTCU training staff.

He was reportedly abducted in March 15, and his corpse was found in a river beside the Jones Bridge in Escolta three days later. The Manila Regional Trial Court handed down the death penalty to a fellow cadet three years later.

The incident turned 2001 into a year of national anti-ROTC protest. Added to the normal chorus of student groups, who now had a martyr to rally around, were the voices of University and College administrators -- lending a level of credibility to the movement that it hitherto lacked. The University Belt Consortium was the first group of educators to publish a call to address the ROTC issue. Shortly thereafter, they were followed by a group of Cebuano educators.

ROTC formations in certain prominent Universities were rocked by cadet walk-outs. These were inspired by "Abolish!", a coalition of organizations including the League of Filipino Students, National Union of Students in the Philippines, the College Editors Guild, Student Christian Movement, Kalipunan ng Kabataang Kristyano sa Pilipinas, and Anakbayan.

Another group, the Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP) -- composed of Akbayan and the Student Council Association of the Philippines -- went on a different tack, focusing instead on parliamentary approaches to the matter.

Congress did not take long to take up the legal challenge. No less than seventeen bills and resolutions were generated -- in both houses of Congress -- in response to the protests. Most mentioned Mark Welson Chua in their text, acknowledging his death as the catalyst for reform.

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