Students were met with confusion earlier this month when a petition began making rounds in social media asking for the retention of DLSU’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Although no formal announcement from the administration has yet been made, the said program will be suspended in AY 2015-2016 for both the DLSU-Manila and DLSU-CSB campuses.
Members from ROTC began circulating the petition online last March 3 against its suspension, urging students to vouch for the program. The said petition cites the many achievements and awards the corps has received in the past decades.
“De La Salle University has a rich history in the rudiments of ROTC training. Since 1936, the DLSU ROTC Unit has been keeping its prestige and excellence as a distinct ROTC Unit nationwide,” the petition declares.
It further mentions that although the reputation of the program has been tainted by recent incidents of hazing, it has conducted numerous valuable socio-civic activities and trained students in the core values of Discipline, Loyalty, Service, and Unity. It then concludes by urging ROTC alumni and students alike to testify to their positive experiences of the program by signing the petition.
The petitioners aim to gather 10,000 signatures in support of the cause, with a deadline set on April 4, 2015. Currently, the petition is still being shared online, and as of March 23, 1,876 signatures have already been gathered.
However, aside from the petition, there has yet to be any official statement released from the ROTC in response to the suspension. Corps Commander Rose Ann Tañaquin clarifies, “For now, we still cannot give out information or comments regarding the issues since there are still ongoing meetings.”
Need for evaluation
Although the petition has been associated to the administration’s decision to suspend the ROTC program with a “looming abolition,” it is important to note that the suspension is only a temporary measure, and will not result in the complete removal of the program.
Fritzie De Vera, Dean of Student Affairs, explains, “ROTC is not abolished. ROTC is just suspended for one year for the evaluation of the program. There is a need to evaluate both the advanced and basic training programs. This is to improve how it’s being implemented in DLSU.”
According to her, the decision to have a reevaluation was a result of the recent hazing issue within the ROTC and a recommendation given by the school’s partners in the Naval Reserve Command.
In terms of criteria, De Vera elaborates that they will again review the program’s implementation and content, as well as the focus of the program to ensure that it will be “more responsive to the current needs.”
She also hopes that the current suspension, which is set for only the next academic year, will not be extended, and that evaluations will be completed within that time period.
Nonetheless, the program will not be available in the coming academic year, leaving students with no alternatives when taking a National Service Training Program course.
De Vera shares that to resolve this they have considered to begin offering Literacy Training Service (LTS) to students as an alternative to the current Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) program.
Republic Act 9163, which established and required NSTP for tertiary level education, defines LTS as “A program designed to train students to become teachers of literacy and numeracy skills to school children, out of school youth, and other segments of society in need of their service.”
With regards to implementation, De Vera says that the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) will be the ones in charge of managing the said course, the same office who coordinates CWTS.
Whether or not LTS will still be offered after ROTC’s suspension lapses is still unclear. However, De Vera considers that it may be possible given that components of the program have already been included in the CWTS program before. “LTS has been integrated in CWTS ever since, so I think it can still be offered,” she says.
In response to the recent controversy, the University Student Government (USG) has also started to take action. USG Vice President for Internal Affairs Pram Menghrajani shares that they have begun talks with both the ROTC officers and student affairs in hopes of resolving the matter.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Assembly (LA) has begun discussions on the issue. In their session last March 16, they justified the retention the program, citing that the sanctioning of the officers involved was enough to remedy the situation. Furthermore, they argued that many of ROTC’s socio-civic activities will not push through if the program will be suspended next year.
Aside from this, Chief Legislator Patrick Kahn lamented that the one year suspension would have a negative impact on the training of the officers and the conduct of the program for the following year.
Miscommunication has also been an issue seen by the legislators as there have yet to be any official announcement from the administration clarifying the current and future state of the program. As such, the LA agreed that a manifesto should be issued to ensure that the entire student body is updated on the issue.
Regardless of the administrations’ further actions, LA Representative Bianca Soriano assured that the USG will continue providing support to the ROTC. “If ever it will be suspended, USG will be helping with the transition in terms of finding other avenues for them to exercise different activities that they do in the program,” she shares.