The deadly drug war face and now policymaker Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa jeered at people who are "pushing for war" with China regarding the issue on the West Philippine Sea and yet are against the revival of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.
In a Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing, the former national police chief said, "Many people, young and old, want war with China. They blame the government for a very weak stance against China, and they want us to go into combat, but they do not want to undergo the ROTC program."
On his first year in the upper chamber, Dela Rosa filed a bill for a mandatory ROTC program for senior high school students in private and public schools. At the same time, five other more Senate bills are pushing for the same program. These measures, however, remain pending at the committee level.
The legislator seems to have disregarded University of Santo Tomas student Mark Welson Chua whose death became the basis of abolishing mandatory ROTC in 2002.
At that time, Chua, a 19-year-old mechanical engineering student, exposed to their university publication the anomalies in the training corps program of their institution, together with his fellow cadet Romulo Yumul.
The complaints were primarily financial, particularly the questionable collection of charges, aside from the university's existing ROTC fee.
Chua also pinpointed the Department of Military Science and Tactics of bribery with their standard charge of Php 1,500 per semester for every student who wants to be exempted from the course.
A thorough investigation was formed and resulted in the dismissal of UST-ROTC commandant Maj. Demy Tejares and the sanction of other DMST officials.
After exposing the anomalies, Chua received numerous death threats. The new ROTC commandant also advised him to take security training inside Fort Bonifacio.
On March 15, 2001, Chua was supposed to see an agent, but he went missing. His abductors tried to make it appear as a kidnapping accident by calling his father Welson for a Php 3 million ranson.
Two days later, on March 18, 2001, Mark's decomposing body, rolled in a carpet, was found floating around 9 a. m. in the Pasig River near the Jones bridge leading to Escolta. His hands and legs were hogtied while his face was wrapped tightly with cloth and silver duct tape.
An autopsy report revealed that sludge was in his lungs, indicating that he was alive when thrown into the river.
In 2004, Arnulfo Aparri, one of the accused, was convicted to death through lethal injection. He was also charged to pay the family Php 50,000 in indemnity. However, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo abolished the death penalty in 2006, the policy lessened Aparri's sentence to life imprisonment without parole.
Eduardo Tabrilla, co-accused in the crime, presented himself guilty of homicide in 2006. Two others, Paul Tan and Michael Rainard Manangbao, remain at large.
Chua's led to the passage of the "National Service Training Program Law," which removed the completion of mandatory ROTC as a requirement for graduation for male college students in the country.
READ: What’s Something Wrong about March? article of PH Murder Stories.
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