DAVAO CITY, Philippines –The University of the Philippines Mindanao Student Council appealed to the UP administration and the local officials in the city to reject the proposal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build a camp for the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) inside the campus.
On May 15, the 11th Regional Community Defense Group Army Reserve Command sent a proposal to the Davao City Council requesting for a 20-hectare land inside the UP Mindanao campus to be used as training ground for the ROTC.
“The three college student councils of UP Mindanao, is in consensus to end campus militarization and no to mandatory ROTC. This is why we campaign to not allow or approve the said proposal,” UP Mindanao USC Vice President, Prince Arellano said.
Arellano said that the proposal of building a camp inside the campus violates the freedom of expression and academic freedom of students in the university.
“Our campaign is to end campus militarization especially in UP where activism is very strong and there are many progressive students. Many are threatened,” Arellano said.
Pursuant to Republic Act 9163 of 2002, ROTC is one of the three components of the National Service Training Program (NSTP), ‘designed to provide military education and training to tertiary level students in order to motivate, train, organize and mobilize them for national defense preparedness.’
Based on the act, ROTC is to prepare college students for service in the AFP in the event of an emergency.
The implementation of mandatory ROTC stopped in 2001 when an ROTC member from the University of Santo Tomas who allegedly exposed corruption in his unit was murdered. In 2002, the program was made optional and voluntary.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte approved on February, the filing of the bill to revive mandatory ROTC for grades 11 and 12 proposed by the Department of National Defense. The bill is now forwarded to the Congress and Senate.
USC President of UP Mindanao, Romen Wabina expressed concern especially now that Mindanao is in Martial law.
“The University Student Council together along with other local student councils, continue to call to stop campus militarization not only in UP Mindanao, but also in other state universities and colleges,” Wabina said.
In a press statement, USC UP Mindanao stated that the use of school campus for military training is not consistent with the Enrile-Sotto Accord of 1982 in UP which prohibit the use of academic institutions for military purposes.
“We have also known that UP land is not owned by the city so the city has no right to implement or approve such proposal because the Board of Regents of UP is the highest policy making body that can make decision to approve or not approve the proposal,” Arellano said.
According to Arellano, the proposal has yet to reach the UP Board of Regents and they call on the UP community to uphold the academic and democratic orientation of the institution. (davaotoday.com)