The DLSU Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has been reinstated after being suspended for the entire academic year (AY) 2015-2016 due to hazing allegations in the Advance ROTC program. DLSU ROTC Deputy Corps Commander John Villamiel and Dean of Student Affairs Amelia Galang confirm the reinstatement and reveal that the program will be offered again starting January 2017.
As a clarification, Villamiel explains that neither the regular ROTC program nor the Cadet Officer Candidate Course (COCC) program was the cause of the suspension. “It’s the Advance ROTC program that had allegations concerning hazing,” he adds. Furthermore, the COCC program is a voluntary program for a cadet before undergoing the Advance ROTC program. Only after the cadets finish the Advance ROTC program will they be promoted to the Corps of Cadet Officers.
With the program’s restoration, DLSU students will once again have three options for the National Service Training Program, which are the ROTC Program, Literacy Training Program, or Civic Welfare Training Service.
During the evaluation process last AY, the ROTC Program Evaluation Committee (ROTC-PEC) was formed, made up of representatives from the student body, University Student Government, ROTC alumni, cadet officers, ROTC training staff, Philippine Naval Reserve Command, DLSU administrators, faculty, and parents.
In an April 2016 article by The LaSallian, Villamiel explains that the committee was formed mainly to analyze and assess how the program was being implemented, as well as suggest improvements in order to “prevent instances of hazing from happening again.” After the rigorous evaluation process, several modifications to the program were agreed upon by the ROTC-PEC.
Changes in the Advance ROTC and COCC programs
One of the changes in the application process for aspiring officers is the introduction of a comprehensive medical examination, which includes a physical and psychological examination. Initially, the medical examination just included a physical examination. “We’re still discussing what authorized clinics will conduct those examinations,” Villamiel shares.
Monitoring mechanisms will also be implemented for the transcending relationships between the junior and senior officers. These mechanisms will mainly aim to monitor the relationships between the junior and senior officers beyond their usual roles in the ROTC program.
The ROTC personnel, which includes the officers, will have a process evaluation tool, wherein they will be assessed by ROTC cadets and enrollees. Villamiel illustrates that it will be similar to when students assess their professors through the online faculty evaluation in the My.LaSalle System.
In terms of avoiding hazing incidents, the officers will be given a “system of reminders” which will remind them of human rights and anti-hazing issues. They will also require an anti-hazing agreement, which will be signed by the officers and officer applicants.
“Then, we will also have an orientation for the applicants and their parents for the COCC program. This is to confirm if the parents approve of the students’ involvement in the program, and to inform them of what the students will go through. There was nothing like this in the program before,” Villamiel adds. “There will also be an improved grading mechanism for the COCC to [evaluate if they’re really] qualified [to become an] officer or not.”
Changes in the regular ROTC program
For the ROTC program of regular cadets, Villamiel explains that the administration will now have an involvement in the selection of the commandant and training staff. This includes the regular employees from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who were assigned to facilitate trainings for DLSU ROTC. The appointment of the Corps Commander will also be subject to approval through a panel interview with the administration.
Dean Galang adds that since the ROTC program’s modules are mandated by the government, essentially the training will be the same. However, a new module on disaster and risk reduction will be added, and the Expected Lasallian Graduate Attributes will be implemented for both ROTC cadets and officers. “We will also have an evaluation, because before we didn’t have an evaluation of the conduct of the module,” she concludes.
For all the planned changes, the Office of Student Affairs and ROTC officers will regularly conduct strategic planning sessions to talk about further recommendations and preparations before fully implementing it
Vincent Santos (II, BSA) shares that he is planning to join the program after seeing posters in campus encouraging undergraduate students to enlist. “Actually I wanted to join dati pa kaso ayun nga, suspended sila. So sobrang excited akong may ROTC na ulit,” he adds.
ROTC alumnus Michael Aquino (BS-PSYC, ‘12) suggests that those planning to join the ROTC should think a lot of times before joining. “It’s not all about fun during trainings; it involves military training. Discipline is key, and although [the program] is hard, [in the end] it’s worth it because you can see your gains from there,” he shares.
Meanwhile, Jeriko Bais (V, AE-FIN) narrates how, for him, the ROTC program was able to build a lot of connections, create student leaders, “and has also been something that DLSU can be proud of because of the numerous awards that DLSU ROTC has received.” He also hopes that the speculations about hazing within the program have been resolved and that the program can be back on track soon.