University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) President Dr Ricardo Rotoras. (Photo from the Facebook page of Ricardo Rotoras)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The sudden death of a state-owned university here Saturday morning has shocked the community of thr University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP).

According to the police, USTP president Ricardo Rotoras, was gunned down by unidentified assailants outside his home in Golden Glow North subdivision in Barangay Carmen, this city, around 1:00 a.m. Saturday.

Police said Rotoras bore multiple gunshot wounds in his body and was rushed to a nearby JR Borja General Hospital by his driver but he did not reach the medical facility alive.

A witness told investigators he saw individuals loitering near the Golden Glow North perimeter fence days before the incident.

The same witness also saw two men walking out of the housing subdivision after the shooting. A black pick-up truck came to fetch the suspected gunmen, the witness added.

Recovered from the crime scene were empty shells fired from a weapon believed to be a .45 caliber pistol.

In an online interview, Nef Luczon, a USTP faculty member of the Department of Technology Communication Management, said Rotoras’death was “a great loss.”

“I can only wish [that] justice will be served soon. I also hope that people will cooperate as authorities will investigate so that leads and motives will be identified,” Luczon said.

Rotoras, who served as the head of the USTP since 2006, was also the president of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) for four consecutive terms.

Elected unopposed for the fourth time, Rotoras was supposed to end his two-year term as PASUC head in 2019.

“His unopposed re-election bespeaks of his excellent leadership, hard work, selfless dedication and commitment towards leveling up the standards of education in the country,” read a portion of the article posted on the USTP’s website referring to his reelection as PASUC president.

It was during his stint as USTP president that the university saw two major transformations, first from being declared as Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST) to its current status as the center of science and technology in Southern Philippines.

The upgrade from MUST to USTP was realized by virtue of Republic Act 10919 through the amalgamation of the MUST and the Misamis Oriental State College of Agriculture and Technology (MOSCAT) in Claveria, Misamis Oriental.

The school has also maintained its level IV status as State University (Highest Distinction) as adjudged by the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Budget and Management continues to be one of the 19 leading state universities in the country.

Rotoras was described as a “dedicated public servant” and “workaholic” by his colleagues.

As of Saturday morning, police said they are still conducting investigation and follow-up operation.

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