Hazing charges filed against ROTC corps commander, COCC program suspended

The Cadet Officer Candidate Course (COCC) program of the University’s Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) unit has been temporarily suspended for the rest of the term while the Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO) investigates accounts of hazing within the unit.

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The Cadet Officer Candidate Course (COCC) program of the University’s Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) unit has been temporarily suspended for the rest of the term while the Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO) investigates accounts of hazing within the unit. This move is in reply to the COCC hazing-related complaints received by the SDFO, including one filed by parents of a former cadet.

Hazing is defined by the student handbook and the Anti-Hazing Law (Republic Act No. 8049) as not only physical abuse, but all “embarrassing or humiliating situations, such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish, and similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury”.

Student Discipline Formation Office Director Christy Santiago tells that her office began its formal investigation of activities in the unit last June, after receiving an endorsement letter from the Dean of Student Affairs (DSA) Fritzie de Vera. Until June, members of the COCC or advanced ROTC program continued to train during Saturdays and other selected training days. However, while the investigation is ongoing, the program has been temporarily suspended to prevent interactions between cadets that could lead to possible interference with the outcome of the investigation.

Security has also been stationed at the ROTC office area to monitor the organization’s everyday activities while the University is still in the process of assigning a new ROTC coordinator, following the retirement of the previous coordinator. The suspension of the program will not affect ROTC’s other socio-civic activities, such as the blood drive, as well as its color services.


Ongoing investigation

The investigation is being fast-tracked and all paperwork and evidence material to the case have already been forwarded to the University Legal Counsel. The SDFO has also obtained statements from all the students and former students involved, as well as the parents who sent the letter of complaint and the parents of the cadet who was the subject of the complaint. As of press time, the University Legal Counsel has yet to make a decision on the case.

The Philippine Navy’s Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM), the overseeing body of the University’s ROTC program, also conducted an external investigation about abuses within the COCC program. The results of the investigation and NAVRESCOM’s recommendations have been forwarded to the University, but Santiago clears that the SDFO will not rely solely on the Naval Reserve Command’s external investigation and will proceed with obtaining information on their own.


Not welcome at DLSU

If it will be proven that activities related to hazing occurred in the unit, the students involved will be subject to disciplinary proceedings for violation of the University’s student handbook and non-fraternity contract. According to Santiago, the sanction will depend on the gravity of the case and the participation of the students in question.

University President and Chancellor Br. Ricky Laguda FSC admits that he is aware of the occurrence of violence, including hazing, within and around the University not only in the ROTC but also in other organizations. He believes that such things are difficult to handle despite the safety nets put up by the University because many victims are scared to come out and tell their stories.

Laguda is firm in his stand against any form of bullying, hazing, and mental or physical abuse. “Whether true or not, hazing has no place in the University or society in general…Hazing is intrinsically evil. People who do hazing have no conscience. Period,” he insists.

The DSA voices out similar sentiments, as de Vera shares, “Such acts of violence and any form of intimidation or abuse are not welcome here in our University. We make sure that our students are penalized if proven that they did such acts.  Such acts deserve grave penalties—they may be dismissed or even expelled from the University.”

The University hopes to settle the case within the first two terms of this academic year. The COCC program, meanwhile, is eyed to be reinstated during the second term, the same time that the regular National Training and Service Program (NSTP) will begin. Nevertheless, it will be subject to review based on the merits of the pending case.


Compliant and law-abiding Lasallians?

However, this is not the first time that the University’s ROTC program has experienced violence-related trouble.

In 1995, mechanical engineering student and ROTC cadet Seth Lopez succumbed to injuries following purported hazing activities of ROTC cadet officers in a farm in Tanay, Rizal. Lopez was brought to the Morong General Hospital but was declared dead on arrival. The parents of Lopez eventually decided to drop all murder charges, but the University still proceeded with its investigations and students who were proven to have been involved in the death of Lopez were expelled.

The fatality came shortly after the Senate passed the Anti-Hazing Law due to the rise in the number of ROTC and fraternity-related injuries and fatalities in those years. Lopez’s death was one of the events that prompted the University to intensify its measures against hazing through the instigation of the Non-Fraternity Contract in 1995.

All Lasallian freshmen are required to submit their contracts to the DSA before the start of their first academic year. The contract will signify that the student is not a part of and will not join any fraternity or any similar type of organization during his or her stay at DLSU. The DSA, with the help of SDFO, also conducts follow-up interviews with students from high schools with fraternity affiliation track records.


Anti-ROTC movements outside DLSU

In February 2014, two students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines were dismissed after being found guilty of allegations of beating a freshman student, one of the ROTC program’s female COCCs. The beating resulted in heavy bruising of the cadet’s legs and back.

The incident revived calls for the abolition of the ROTC program in universities, with protesters citing the proliferation of violent cultures in ROTC units. They claim that hazing and violence within ROTC units remain largely unreported due to both the victims’ fear of further punishment and the mentality that such behavior is normal in military training. Meanwhile, other groups call not for the abolition of the program but for reform instead, given that ROTC engages not only in military training, but also in other developmental programs.

Aside from the PUP case, only few others have surfaced to garner media attention. The heavier cases are concentrated in the 1990s until the early 2000s. The most well known among all these is the case of University of Santo Tomas (UST) ROTC cadet Mark Chua in 2001, whose death is linked to his exposure of corruption within the unit. Chua’s beaten and decomposing body was found floating in the Pasig River three days after his disappearance. Two suspects have been detained since then, while two others remain at large. Other incidents linked to the ROTC program in that decade are the death of Arthur Salero of Saint Louis University (SLU) in 1999, and the physical abuse of eight COCCs from the Baguio Colleges Foundation (BCF).



For the sake of unbiased and fair reporting, The LaSallian has attempted to reach out to the COCCs and ROTC officers involved in the complaint, but the publication has not received any word on when they will be willing to give statements to clarify the events described in the complaint filed. As the investigation of the SDFO continues, The LaSallian will also continue to reach out to the concerned students and former students to verify the accuracy of the complaint and the gravity of the situation.

The LaSallian has been pursuing this story over the past few weeks. The incident mentioned above has no relation to fraternities or the unfortunate passing of Guillo Cesar Servando, a DLSU-College of Saint Benilde student.

Dana Uson

By Dana Uson

52 replies on “Hazing charges filed against ROTC corps commander, COCC program suspended”

Why is it that when ROTC receives commendations or awards I don’t see or hear a word of it on the lasallian? But when something like this turns up that’s when you write. It’s as if you were only waiting for ROTC to make a wrong turn. And that “disclaimer” …

Of all the awards and commendations ng ROTC program natin bakit yan lang ang ipinakita? Also, sino yung tangang editor na hindi nagblur nung mga pangalan? Buti ngayon pinalitan niyo na.

The DLSU ROTC won the Local and National AGTI from 2010 to date. They are currently the defending champions. So why no articles about those?

The world doesn’t revolve around DLSU’s ROTC, you know. LOL. I don’t think TLS writes an article on every accomplishment of DLSU. Sure, they’re the provider of news. But let’s get real. You don’t see a new article every time the Chorale wins, or a professor is awarded, or something.

You get upset for not getting media attention in the past. Well, now the spotlight’s on you…..

If doing exercises beyond the limits is hard for you, don’t bother joining ROTC. What ROTC does is a fragment of what the real deal does. If you ask people who graduated from ROTC, most if not all will say that we miss it. There are no grounds for filing hazing charges and it’s just incompetence.

The problem with people who overly-react to this article is they think the whole ROTC is suspended. No, only the COCC program is, and the article clearly stated that.

“embarrassing or humiliating situations, such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish, and similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury”. Well that makes the application for the pep squad hazing as well, right? Why the focus on ROTC? Unlike some fraternities, these “hazing” practices have purpose aka prepare you for being drafted as a reservist. I agree that inflicting physical injury is bad, but if it’s through physical training, I don’t think it should be considered the same. I dont know what really happened to the person who reported these hazing practices in the COCC program, but why enter the program in the first place if you’re not ready to be physically and psychologically tested?

The entire point of ROTC is the military knowledge and training, not hazing and the like. Sure the training is hard and the kids complain but 1) that’s what they chose and 2) it’s actually easier than in the real military (as daijoboudesuka said). It’s not right to abolish the ROTC because of a few bad eggs; said eggs should be tossed out, if necessary.

Besides, when the time comes, who will fight China?

I don’t know what happened but I believe it was an isolated incident. For the most part, ROTC was a positive experience for me. I am a pre-med student and the training I received as a Medic has already helped me and I think it will help me as well in Medicine.

Many friendships were formed across different colleges and even between DLSU and CSB. We trained hard but we knew it had a purpose. It was too keep La Salle’s banner high and bright, to continue our 4-pete. While our brothers and sisters in the UAAP were winning, we were fighting our own battles. Lasallians aren’t just good at sports. They’re multi-talented and we excel in a variety of fields, not only academics but in ROTC too.

What I think about the Philippine News is that it focuses too much on the negatives. Come on, they haven’t even finished their investigations yet. Nothing has been proven. We don’t know what really happened yet. We shouldn’t form opinions about the whole of ROTC when there was an alleged incident specially when it is still undergoing investigation.

Excuse me pero san sa article merong opinion ng writer? Binasa mo ba o di mo inintindi sa sobrang blanko ng utak mo sa galit? Haaaay

Just so you know, this article had been revised several times, because of wrong statements written by the author. Why do you think it was edited then?

Of course there is going to be room for error. Journalists are human, too. As such, they are capable of making mistakes as well. For the sake of delivering news, they may change the information given so that readers are ensured they are presented with the truth. For instance, circumstances may change. When they do, of course a writer must edit the article in order to add/remove data as needed.

errors that were used as facts by other media organizations which were deemed true by the society. “For instance, circumstances may change”. The circumstances did not change, the sentences they used were just unintelligible. Get facts straight before posting news, not rushing it just for publicity.

You are the one who isn’t comprehending. Nowhere have I talked about or implied about the writer’s opinion. I was referring to the opinion of the public hence the “we” instead of “the writer” or “author.”

The author of this article certainly stated nothing but facts. I’ll not question the technical writing aspect of it as it’s besides the point. The point is that the story isn’t complete yet. Stating some of the facts is just the same as not telling the whole truth. If you aren’t following the news, a certain group is now renewing its call on the abolishment of the ROTC program and is using this incident as a basis. No hazing has been proven yet but they’re already making sweeping generalizations about the whole program. It’s not ROTC in itself that is wrong. If we follow their logic then we should abolish the government because it breeds corruption. The system isn’t the one that’s wrong. It’s the people that is running it. If we want to make it better, everyone should have a part even you and me. If you haven’t heard of the Lasallian prayer for change, I suggest you look it up. “~Start the change we want to see…”

“We should act now and call immediately for the abolition of ROTC in schools. ROTC is nothing but a fascist indoctrination program, which teaches students violence and blind obedience,” – the pertained to quote in case you are misinterpreting again.

To think that you had the audacity to call me mindless based on my personal views. Instead of critiquing me as a person why don’t you add to the discussion? Point out your views on the topic. Add a solution to the problem.

Yes, I do agree that ROTC in itself isn’t wrong, it’s the people who abuse the system that are. However what I don’t understand is why people like you come into this page and bash the publication when all it did was release news? The article published didn’t call for abolishing the ROTC or even the COCC. It didn’t even aim to paint ROTC in a bad light. All it aimed to do was inform the readers of the investigation still ongoing. Wouldn’t you think it was more unfair if people didn’t hear of this incident until a verdict was reached from the investigation? From my standpoint it will just blow up into a bigger issue if this alleged incident was kept from the public eye at the beginning.

Besides, if we follow your logic of not posting developing stories, i.e. those still ‘incomplete,’ then that would result in a totally different face of media. Media won’t be media as we know it. A lot of news articles are actually breaking news or developing news, and both types are most likely published even without the complete data or information available at that time. There’s a difference between leaving out information deliberately and leaving out information because there was no other information available, as is the case in this article.

I know no one might actually read my long comments, but I am a bit disappointed with the comment section of the article especially when we it was made by die-hard fans of ROTC.

I think the article’s intention was never to taint the name of the DLSU ROTC nor did it intend to talk about the general program as “all about hazing”. It simply talked about a report, which quite contrary to most of the comments here, is the truth. There is an investigation about a case, people are looking to the truthfulness of the situation, they are looking for evidences–note: NONE of which mean that “ROTC is a hazing institution” or “ROTC is such a bad program for students”.

Regardless whether this case happened or not, we will recognize that ROTC has contributed to the development of citizens that are ready to defend the country. The article does not discredit these contributions. What the article (and possibly the writer) wanted to stress here is that institutions like the ROTC/COCC are led by human beings. They are prone to mistakes and abuses. In the spirit of journalism, exposing these abuses not only make sure they are not being done, but it makes a better system such that ROTC creates a conducive environment for discipline.

What disappoints me though is the fact that some people choose to misconstrue the meaning behind “hazing” and “training mental and physical limits”. I think we should trust the university to investigate the case to establish whether “hazing” (the abusive kind) did happen. A person wouldn’t necessarily complain on the basis that “they cannot handle the stress of ROTC”. This person would just have shifted to something less physically tasking. The fact remains that the article did what it intended to do: make us aware of a case that involves the institution that trains our cadets. Let’s not talk past each other and let’s focus our efforts to help the university find the truth about the case.

A quote from a movie that I recommend people to watch, A Few Good Men, which involves a trial of military officials who committed abuses within the military:
“We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves.”

If you are saying that this article doesnt taint the name of the DLSU ROTC program, then tell me why is there negative comments on this post in the facebook page…

All i can say is, you are concerned because you are/were part of The Lasallian.

Fix all your facts first, and try some confidentiality with the pictures. 🙂

Negative comments do not prove that the intent was to taint the name of the program. Negative comments prove that people can react to something. Just like how a woman can receive negative comments of being immoral when she is unwed–it does not prove that she is indeed immoral. Something will only be called the “truth” if reality is the same as what you perceive it to be. Just because it is perceived to be tainting the name of DLSU ROTC doesn’t mean that it’s the reality of the article. That is why we need to be critical.

Trials will always involve a question of innocence but it does not mean that they are branded as guilty immediately. Maybe people are just taking it too personally and I understand that. If an institution that has contributed to your development and has changed your life, I can understand that when it is being questioned with hazing charges it sort of infuriates you. Which is fair. But let’s see beyond these emotions and see that the purpose of the article is merely to improve an already great system. To never tolerate the possibility of abuse. Like any other organization, they should be subject to the critical eyes of society, especially when it involves abuse.

PS: I am not a member of The Lasallian nor was I a previous member of it. I just happened to be concerned about the fight people have over this article. I think it’s point is pretty simple and we should not over-sensationalize what it means. It’s reporting that: there’s a case. We’re investigating. Here’s the history.

May I stress that what this article intended to do was to simply report what happened, and not taint the name and image of ROTC. The investigation is ongoing, as the article reported. Surely you have read and understood that? And, surely, if the unit is proven innocent of the charges, then the name of the program won’t be tainted at all? There’s nothing to be scared of if you think the COCC program did not engage in acts of hazing.

Maybe instead of bashing the publication, try and read the disclaimer first. They tried to get the COCC’s statements regarding the incident, but they have yet to issue anything.

Concerned because part of TLS? You don’t have to be a part of a student publication to be able to use critical thinking.

I’m guessing that the indifference between some members of the ROTC community and TLS is that we never really received much “love” from them. To date there is only this article and another one which talks about the personal achievement of some members of the ROTC community. This article has been the only one that affects ROTC as a whole.

It can’t be helped that we become indifferent when only our alleged faults were published and not our achievements. There’s also nothing we can do if some people think that this was published(it’s their front page cover in fact) just so that TLS will get more views specially when DLSU and hazing are hot topics. Why wasn’t it the development of the ongoing talks about the handbook revisions? Something that will affect the whole of the student body and not just a sector. Anyway, we worked hard for those achievements. We trained just like the rest of the people that represent our school. Even alumni, out of their own free time and free will, help out in order to help us out and this is what we get. Couldn’t TLS have waited for the investigation of the SDFO to finish before publishing the story?

Well, I’m guessing that this was made the banner story because it doesn’t really affect just your sector, which is the ROTC, I guess. It does affect the whole community, and it can even relate to people outside of the university. If you think about it, the handbook revisions will only affect people in DLSU but the alleged hazing incident affects a lot of people (in fact, it already has, judging by the massive media coverage on it).

There is such a thing as instigating influence towards the misinformed people who may read this article. For example, ID 114s and their parents. NSTP Recruitment was just last week. How do you think that the arising of this issue affect the number of students joining the program? If the officers are innocent, their reputation, the program’s reputation, have already been tainted. Plus, they keep on relating the incident with the CSB hazing incident and the hazing incidents that happened in other schools. “Hazing, hazing, hazing” Yeah, not every one is critical enough to comprehend the deeper and actual sense of this article, dude.

I understand that telling a part of the truth that a case has been filed may cause parents to be more cautious about ROTC. I also agree that not everyone may be critical to comprehend the article. But I think we should make them understand and tell them–to clarify that this is merely an investigation. I think we could communicate to these parents that ROTC is a life changing program nonetheless and that this is an isolated case. In fact, if the officers are innocent that makes the person who filed the case and the university somehow feel a bit ashamed about what happened. But even if somehow they are tainted, what is more important is that we don’t tolerate even the slightest possibility of abuse. Of course I, myself, do not like questioning a program that functions well. But if that involves someone getting harmed, then maybe we should err on the side of caution and talk about these concerns.

You also missed the point behind the meaning of “training” the person who reported this (a cadet) may think that doing more than just what the normal cadets do is “physical abuse” (hazing in this person’s term). COCC are people trained to become officers. They should be able to do more because they are the people who will pass it on to their future cadets.

The article emphasized too much of what it used to be in the past. 1995 incident was a long time ago and the school’s program has been reformed since then. Before that law was passed, DLSU ROTC had 7-8 units in the past but was reduced to 5 removing the others due to that incodent. ROTC program is strictly supervised by the school and by the NAVRESCOM. ROTC now is by choice and not be force. If you know that you will be doing a lot of drills and such, you should be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally. It changed the lives of people who underwent ROTC for the better.

This article only mentioned negatives without the positives. DLSU ROTC has been bringing home a lot of championships from competitions and such. And is actively participating in relief packing, cleaning and other school drives

I understand perfectly. Of course training is supposed to be physically demanding. Yet the reason for the trial is to ascertain whether it went beyond the borders of what can be considered “training” and “abuse”. It is not right to say that this person signed up for physical (or even mental) abuse just because they are cadets. He signed up to be a full-pledged officer, not just some object people could use as a battering ram. Please understand that the article is not trying to say ROTC is a bad institution. It just wants to invoke change so that these accidents do not happen again. While NAVRESCOM and the school might try its best to monitor the daily activities of the ROTC, you must also realize they cannot monitor it 24/7. There are times where they miss these abuses so it’s better to err on caution and investigate

I may agree that the 1995 incident was a long time ago but before the article, I didn’t even something like that ever happened. Like studying history, we go through the good and the bad times the university has. I think the article was just trying to be well-informed of the issue and the nature of the cases involved.

Of course, there is nothing positive about being criticized as an institution especially when there is a claim of abuse happening. And as I said in one of the replies to the people who commented, even a respected institution as the ROTC deserves to be criticized when it has done wrong.

The fact that you chose to respond with “TLS PR” says a lot about how you respond to criticism: diverting the issue to something that isn’t even relevant.

To correct your misconception, in Philippine law, hazing is always illegal. But I do understand what you mean by implying that there’s such a thing as “non-abusive hazing”–you meant means of forging strong patriotic and brotherly bonds through shared physical training and hardship. But just let me correct you that in the Philippine Legal system, there’s no such thing as non-abusive hazing. You have to call it something else. “Enhanced cooperative team building,” perhaps?

After all, hazing began as a way to instill the same “esprit de corps” in times of peace that a soldier would usually only get to develop during times of war, bonds forged by fire, blood, and the ever-looming threat of imminent death. I humbly submit that it’s wiser to build these bonds without the use of direct physical maltreatment. It’s not the forging of these bonds that’s the problem. It’s the physical violence.

Hindi ako sure pero from what I’ve heard, bago pa man malaman ng SDFO ung situation sa COCC, iniimbestigahan na ng ROTC office ung mga naririnig nila na sinuntok o inabuso ng officers ung mga COCC cadets. Sa pagkakaalala ko nung April or May pa may umabot na balita sa ROTC office na may mga inaabuso na cadets. Kaya siguro naging tahimik ung issue ay dahil gusto rin ng parents ng mga cadets at cadets mismo na magkaroon ng peaceful na investigation. Maganda na naibabalita sa mga students ung ganitong mga balita. Ang problema lang siguro ay ung timing ng balita kasi sumabay sa CSB student na unfortunately, namatay sa hazing. Masyadong na sensationalize ung balita doon kaya siguro ganoon na lang ung batuhan ng opinyon, lalo na sister school natin ung CSB. Ang tingin tuloy ng ibang students especially ung mga nagROTC na parang dinadamay ng TLS ung ROTC sa hazing (which is mali ng ibang students). NagROTC din ako (kaya siguro narinig ko ung mga usapusapan na yan) at iba talaga ung bawat hirap at saya na dinadanas ng ibat ibang unit every training day. Sana naman wag nating sabihin na “wag ka sumali kung di ka mentally at physically fit” kasi depende rin naman sa cadet at officer niya kung ano mararanasan nya eh. Sa mga students naman na hindi naman naging part ng ROTC, let’s try to weigh our opinions at ung facts. At sa mga student journalists, you’ve done your part na iinform ang mga estudyante at readers niyo pero syempre kahit papano isipin nating ung mga madadamay at kung dapat na bang ipahayag ang ganitong balita. Walang tamang oras pero sana maging “sensitive” tayo na posibleng masaktan ung kabilang party lalo na’t di pa nila pwedeng invoice out ung saloobin nila. Ikatutuwa ko po ang mga constructive criticisms nyo at sana matapos na ang imbestigasyon tungkol dito.

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