University president killed in Cagayan de Oro
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The president of a state university in this city was killed just outside his home early Saturday, December 2, police said.
Dr Ricardo Rotoras, president of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) in Cagayan de Oro, was shot by still unknown assailants at the Golden Glow North Village in upper Carmen, according to City Police Director Police Senior Superintendent Robert Roy Bahian.
Rotoras sustained gunshot wounds in different parts of the body, the police officer said.
"He was immediately rushed to JR Borja Hospital by his driver. Later on, the victim was pronounced dead. A witness stated that days ago, he noticed suspicious persons at the grassy portion, near their building and near the perimeter fence of Golden Glow Subdivision," Bahian said.
Witnesses saw two persons walking away after the incident and were fetched by a black pick-up, which fled towards an unknown direction.
Recovered from the crime scene were empty shells fired from a weapon believed to be a .45 caliber pistol.
Bahian said that Police Station 4 operatives are now conducting an investigation and follow-up operations for the possible arrest of the suspect.
The murder of Rotoras sent shockwaves across the university system where Rotoras studied in college, and worked his way up to become the university president.
Rotoras, who served as the head of the USTP since 2006, was on his 4th consecutive term as president of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC). He was supposed to end his two-year term as PASUC head in 2019.
It was during his stint as USTP president when the university – formerly the Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST) – was declared as the center of science and technology in Southern Philippines.
Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said he asked the help of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and the National Bureau of Investigation for the speedy resolution of the case. He also said he was in close coordination with the police on the matter.
The mayor expressed his deepest condolences to the Rotoras family, and said the educator's death was a “great loss" to Mindanao’s academic community.
"This is very sad and a great loss to the academic community and Mindanao," Moreno said over radio MellowTouch.
CHED: 'Untimely loss of an esteemed partner'
In a statement, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the attack on Rotoras, and said it is “one with the entire Philippine higher education sector in grieving the tragic and untimely loss of an esteemed partner.”
“Dr Rotoras was a staunch, reliable, and longtime ally of the Commission in its efforts to push for reforms in Philippine higher education, especially in his role as President of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) and the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP),” said CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera III.
“Through his able leadership, PASUC has served as a critical collaborator of the Commission in advocating for greater support to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), and in shaping many of the strategic reforms underway today,” added De Vera, who is also CHED spokesperson.
CHED extended its condolences to the Rotoras family, and joined calls to give justice to the slain educator.
“We express our deepest condolences to the bereaved family of Dr Rotoras and to the USTP community, as we appeal to the authorities to exhaust all means to bring his perpetrators to justice,” he said. – Rappler.com