Twenty years ago, Mark Welson Chua, a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadet at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) was found lifeless in Pasig River.
Chua’s decomposing body was fished out of the Pasig River on March 18, 2001. His death was believed to have been linked to his exposé of alleged corruption in the ROTC unit of UST.
Chua died after exposing practices of corruption, bribery, and extortion in the UST ROTC unit to the Varsitarian in 2001. Varsitarian is the university’s official student publication.
His death brought clamor for the abolition of the mandatory ROTC, resulting in the passage of the National Service Training Program (NSTP) law that offers other service options to students that do not involve military training.
Corruption and bribery
Chua, along with cadet Romulo Yumul, filed a complaint with the Department of National Defense (DND), alleging the rampant corruption in the UST-ROTC. It resulted in the dismissal of the UST-ROTC commandant Maj. Demy Tejares after a thorough investigation.
According to the Varsitarian, most of the complaints were financial, particularly the questionable collection of a P250 for “army patches” fee upon enrollment during first semester and a P20 registration fee during second semester, apart from the P300 ROTC fee.
Cadets would also pay P10 each time they take preliminary and final exams and to buy attendance cards on the first day training Sunday, with prices ranging from P10 to P20.
Chua also accused the Department of Military Science and Tactics of bribery, saying that students who want to be exempt from the course would pay some officials a standard price of P1,500 per semester.
Tejares was relieved of his office as UST-ROTC Commandant due to command responsibility on January 16, 2001.