ILOILO City – The killing of a freshman student at the Iloilo State College of Fisheries (ISCOF) in Dumangas, Iloilo on March 11 was a “plain criminal act that sprung from an altercation between two private individuals over a personal matter,” according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo criticized a nongovernment organization for linking the incident to the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.
“There was no way this was ROTC-related or that it could have happened in a ROTC training environment. This is a distortion of facts and a lie by groups desperate to discredit both the ROTC program and malign the President,” Arevalo stressed.
President Rodrigo Duterte wanted the ROTC revived.
The other day, the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns blamed the “culture of violence” in the ROTC program for the death of Willie Amihoy, 23, of Barangay Maquina, Dumangas. He was bludgeoned to death by the college’s former ROTC commander, 22-year-old Elmer Decilao of Barangay Ermita, Dumangas.
Decilao, a graduating Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) student, claimed he got mad at Amihoy who accused him of stealing his wallet so he repeatedly clubbed the victim with a lead pipe.
“How come a simple misunderstanding could lead to a violent death? Where is the discipline that the ROTC program promised to instill among our students,” asked Salinlahi in a statement.
Arevalo said Decilao, now in police custody, is no longer the ROTC Corps commander in ISCOF. He said the suspect was with the ROTC only until March 2017.
Naval Reserve Public Affairs Office officer-in-charge Lieutenant Commander Joseph Bernaldez echoed Arevalo’s position. The suspect had nothing to do with the ROTC program in ISCOF anymore, he stressed.
The ROTC program at ISCOF is being supervised by the Philippine Navy.
“While the Philippine Navy condemns what transpired and condoles with the family of the victim, we aim to set the public (perception) straight that the alleged perpetrator, during the commission of the crime, was no longer involved in any ROTC activities/program of the school being a graduating student,” Bernaldez said.
He then defended the ROTC as playing a vital role in sustaining the AFP Reserve Force.
Arevalo said the ROTC, which is being pushed as a requirement for Grade 11 and 12 senior high school students, will help instill nationalism and patriotism to the youth and inculcate on them discipline, sense of purpose, respect for the laws, rules, regulations, and the authorities and the elders.
“The youth of today shall be the leaders of the future and imbibing and nurturing these values will redound to the benefit of the next generation,” the AFP spokesperson stressed. (PNA)