Mark Chua R.O.T.C. Martyr Hero

MANILA, Philippines - As we celebrated the centennial of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), we saw so many VIPs receive their well-deserved awards from the ROTC for their accomplishments. I am sure there are other thousands of former ROTC cadets who deserve to be given awards. Obviously the awards were only for those who were the ''best of the best.''

Today I am still appalled that the ROTC compulsory basic course of two years has been abolished. The course was not just a matter of discipline, marches, and parades but a subject in which the cadets became truly nationalist patriots. One can imagine how many thousands of reservist soldiers we could muster in the event of any necessity or emergency because of the ROTC. During President Magsaysay's term, ROTC Cadets manned the election precincts to ensure honest elections.

In my case, I volunteered to join the ROTC Summer Training in 1949 in Camp Floridablanca, Pampanga. I was assigned to Battery C of the Artillery Training Battalion. During the eight short weeks that I spent in the camp, we were firing live ammunition from our 104 mm howitzer cannons. The target range was around Mount Susong Dalaga which is near Mount Pinatubo. We also had live firing of practically all weapons used by the AFP -- from .45 cal pistols, carbines and garrand rifles, .30 and .50 cal machine guns, to throwing live grenades. In addition we were taught how to drive self-propelled howitzers, jeeps, weapons carriers, and 6x6 trucks used to tow the howitzers.

The cadets after the training became the officers of our ROTC units. For those of us who graduated from the four-year ROTC course, we were commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants of the AFP. Yes, in my time there were no bribes in order to pass the compulsory two-year course without even being present, nor were there hazings. I can attest with some degree of pride that the ROTC course made me a better man.

Now who was Mark Chua? He was a UST ROTC cadet who exposed alleged corruption in his ROTC unit. Mark was reportedly sent to Fort Bonifacio for ''re-training.'' Several days later his body was found floating in the Pasig river. The autopsy report said that he was still alive when he was thrown into the river. His hands and feet were ''hog tied,'' his face was covered by masking tape and his body was covered by a rolled carpet-like material.

His death became a launching platform for the ''extreme left'' and their affiliated above-ground organizations among students, women, etc. for the abolition of the ROTC two year compulsory course. Instead of removing the deficiencies in ROTC, it was abolished by Congress to cater unwittingly to the well-orchestrated campaign of the ''Reds.'' Now Representatives Eddie Gullas and Pastor Alcover Jr. have filed a bill to restore the ROTC course. I congratulate them for their initiative. I wish the other members of Congress will see through the resurrected effort of the CPP-NPA-NDF and their sympathizers to again stop the training of our youth. They say that during WWII, it was the peasants led by the ''Hukbalahaps'' who fought the Japanese. Wrong! There were many ROTC officers who fought in Bataan and Corregidor. There were also Hunter ROTC guerrilla units where Col. Terry Adevoso and Frisco San Juan were members. How about Anderson's guerrillas, etc.? In the Visayas we had Col. Kangleon in Leyte, Col. Cushing in Cebu, Col. Peralta in Panay, plus other units in Mindanao. In fact the guerrillas in Cebu captured Japanese strategic plans that shortened WWII.

Finally, Mark Chua should be declared an ROTC hero and a plaque or monument in his honor should be erected either in UST or Camp Aguinaldo or both. Mark was there..... long before ''daang matuwid.''