Youth activists remember Mark Welson Chua, oppose mandatory ROTC

Ryan Macasero

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Youth activists remember Mark Welson Chua, oppose mandatory ROTC

NO TO ROTC. Youth activists remember the 2001 killing of University of Santo Tomas student Mark Welson Chua, in Manila on August 11, 2023. Chua exposed corruption in UST's ROTC program.


The killing of University of Santo Tomas student Mark Welson Chua in 2001 led to the end of mandatory ROTC

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of International Youth Day, young Filipino activists remembered Mark Welson Chua, who was killed over two decades ago for exposing corruption in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program of the University of Santo Tomas, where he was a student.

To honor him and to warn against the possible return of mandatory ROTC, they gave out pins that read: “Remember Mark Welson Chua. No to Mandatory ROTC.

Justine Balane, chairperson of Akbayan Youth, said Senate Bill No. 2034, which seeks to reinstate mandatory ROTC, insults the memory of Chua.

“Senators can’t just dismiss concerns of abuse and corruption if the ROTC becomes mandatory. They should instead expand the National Service Training Program (NSTP) which offers a wider range of opportunities for young people to help in the community, without the risk of violence,” Balane said on Friday, August 11.

Chua was killed by senior ROTC officers. His body was found decomposing in the Pasig River on March 18, 2001, wrapped in a carpet.

Chua’s mother Amelita told Rappler last February: “Ang always nilang sinasabi, ibabalik ang ROTC, i-a-abolish ang ROTC. Pero paano ‘yung root cause ng pagkawala ng ROTC? Hindi nila pinag-uusapan ‘yan.” (They always mention the campaign to bring back ROTC or the abolition of ROTC. But how about the root cause of ROTC’s removal? They’re not talking about it.)

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Through a mother’s lens: My son Mark exposed ROTC corruption and lost his life

While Chua’s death led to the scrapping of mandatory ROTC in 2002, calls for its revival were made during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Congress also named mandatory ROTC and NSTP among their priority bills last July.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa made another push for mandatory ROTC on Wednesday, August 9, saying that those willing to kill and die for the country are “more patriotic” than those watching on the sidelines.

The Kabataan party-list group on Friday called government officials pushing for the return of mandatory ROTC “war freaks.”

“Hindi nga nila masuportahan nang todo ang pagdadala ng isyu ng West Philippine Sea sa UN General Assembly, tapos ang solusyon na naiisip nila agad ay giyera,” said the group in a statement.

(They can’t even fully support bringing the West Philippine Sea issue to the UN General Assembly, and yet their immediate solution is war.)

The United Nations marks International Youth Day on Saturday, August 12, to raise awareness of pressing issues faced by the youth and encourage them to help shape society. –

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Nobuhiko Matsunaka


Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at