BY RUBY P. SILUBRICO and IAN PAUL CORDERO
ILOILO – A nongovernment organization advocating children’s rights and protection blamed the “culture of violence” in the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program for the death of a freshman student at the Iloilo State College of Fisheries (ISCOF) in the municipality of Dumangas.
Willie Amihoy, 23, of Barangay Maquina, Dumangas was bludgeoned to death by the college’s ROTC commander, 22-year-old Elmer Decilao of Barangay Ermita, Dumangas, on Monday.
Decilao, a graduating Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) student, claimed he got mad that Amihoy who accused him of stealing his wallet so he repeatedly clubbed the victim with a lead pipe.
The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, however, saw something more at play than just the ROTC commander’s indignation, justified or not.
“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.
Decilao told Panay News he did not regret killing Amihoy, also a BSED student.
“I got pissed off. He spread word throughout the campus that I stole his wallet without even bothering to get my side. I was humiliated,” said Decilao.
For Salinlahi, however, the killing of Amihoy was a reminder that “ROTC is invested on the culture of violence that breeds criminal minds.”
“Historically, the ROTC program reeks of violence and corruption. It instills a fake sense of nationalism among students. The recent proposals to rekindle the mandatory ROTC among senior high school students will make more minors vulnerable to abuse, maiming, physical assaults, and even deaths,” said Salinlahi secretary general Eule Rico Bonganay.
As of this writing, Decilao was detained at the Dumangas police station. He faces a murder charge, said Senior Inspector Jogen Suegay, the town police chief.
Prior to the fatal assault, said Suegay, both the ROTC commander and Amihoy were seen having a confrontation at the school canteen then at the boys’ dormitory where the bloodied victim was later found.
“We strongly condemn this yet another violence in school perpetrated by an officer of the ROTC program,” said Bonganay.
His group then recalled cases of ROTC-related violence and abuse such as that of Mark Welson Chua in 2001, the University of Santo Tomas student and ROTC cadet murdered after exposing corruption inside the program; and female cadets of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines who experienced hazing and corporal punishment.
“We should not forget that these cases were the bases of the call to abolish the ROTC program. With our current political situation where the Duterte administration uses violence to repress organizations, institutions and individuals critiquing its ways, the revival of mandatory ROTC in senior high school will only create blind followers who can’t even protect our country from foreign forces like China and United States,” said Bonganay./PN