By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III on Friday called on all groups “to stop” using the death of student Willy Amihoy to push for their anti-Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) agenda.
Issuing a statement, De Vera said that the recent death of Amihoy, a student of Iloilo State College of Science and Technology (ISCOF) last March 11 at the ISCOF-Dumangas Campus Boys Dormitory had “triggered news releases and allegations by individuals, civil society organizations and government that are not based on facts and has muddled the case.”
De Vera slammed groups such as the Kabataan Party-list for using the “issue to express their opposition” against the mandatory ROTC, and connecting the incident to what they call the “culture of impunity and abuse.”
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), De Vera said, also related the incident to ROTC, “stating that both the victim and the accused were under a national program meant to develop physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being.”
“I call on all groups to stop using this issue to push for their anti-ROTC agenda,” De Vera said. The death of Amihoy, he reiterated, “(was) not an ROTC-related matter.” Thus, the “use of this incident for propaganda purposes is insensitive and an insult to the families of the victim and the accused.”
De Vera also called on “everyone to let the pertinent authorities handle the case according to the rule of law.” As Chairman of the ISCOF Board of Regents, he shared “pertinent facts” regarding the victim and the incident citing reports from ISCOF President Dr. Godelyn Hisole.
As per CHED, Amihoy was a first year student taking up Bachelor of Secondary Education, major in Biological Science. “ISCOF records show that Amihoy is currently enrolled in NSTP under the ROTC program,” CHED said.
Meanwhile, CHED noted that the suspect, Elmer Decilao, was a graduating student taking up Bachelor of Secondary Education, major in Mathematics. “Decilao was once an ROTC officer but is currently not in active duty,” CHED explained.
Citing details forwarded to CHED, De Vera noted that “incident did not happen during an ROTC formation or any event relating to the conduct of an ROTC-related activity.”
De Vera also clarified that a “case against Decilao was already filed at the provincial prosecutor’s office.”
Meanwhile, De Vera assured that ISCOF has given “financial assistance and insurance” to the bereaved family through the Office of Student Affairs and Services. “Legal assistance and accommodations have also been given to the family who are from Negros Oriental,” he added.
De Vera also noted that the university, with the help of the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association, Inc. (PGCA) “will be conducting a stress debriefing for the students or staff who were traumatized by what happened.”
Likewise, De Vera noted that the University has also “declared a day of mourning and will conduct appropriate religious ceremonies for the affected victims, families and the academic community.”
De Vera added that the University “will provide assistance in transporting the body of the victim to his hometown in Tayasan, Negros Oriental.