The deterioration of discipline

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

THOSE who continue to support the revival of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program in schools believe that the kids of today lack discipline. Echoing Senator Bato dela Rosa’s frustrations with the youth, they believe in this half-baked assumption that kids could benefit from undergoing great physical and emotional ordeals so they could stop playing ML and start acting like obedient pets.

It’s clear that they want military-style indoctrination to gain a foothold in the formation of national values. Teaching kids how to become productive, law-abiding citizens makes so much more sense than exposing them to the contradictions that are at play. Apparently, talking about repressive systems shouldn’t have any prominence when the main goal is to keep said systems alive.

This is the rationale behind this almost twisted desire to introduce military concepts. And it does benefit students by inculcating the ideals of respect and integrity that should animate them into giving back to society. If the objective is to inspire the youth into realizing their fullest potential, then we wouldn’t mind letting ROTC do its magic. If only it weren’t so absurd and hypocritical.

At this point, it’s hard to accept the revival of ROTC seriously as a training ground for upright citizens. With reports of police officers and military personnel acting counter to the ideals they supposedly stand for, the idea of instilling military discipline should be doubted. Just this week, a cadet of the Philippine Military Academy died as a result of injuries caused by hazing. There has been a resounding uproar over this case, with people calling for the PMA to treat this for what it really is: outright murder. So much has been said about militarizing the country’s youth, but there is this tendency to overlook those problems that are costing the lives of young people.

Is it because we are so enamored of the show of power that a military lifestyle peddles? Relying on the symbols of certain institutions to form the standards of morality and uprightness is dangerous, counterproductive, and insane. You can kiss the flag and still act like our islands aren’t being defiled by a grotesque hegemon. You can sing the national anthem and still condone corruption. You can commit yourself to the protection of the citizens of this country and still won’t care if the justice system favors only the rich and powerful.

People have this notion that once you’re in law enforcement and national defense, you’d be less inclined to commit any form of deviance. But it’s clear from the death of Darwin Dormitorio that there are bad apples within the ranks who practice unnecessary rituals despite the fact that President Duterte last year signed the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018. What’s clear is that a violation of this law happened within the premises of an institution that’s supposed to teach cadets the value of integrity and discipline. Surely, these tenets mean nothing when you’re dead from a gut punch.

The officials who have been directly involved in Dormitorio’s death have all been sacked and the National Bureau of Investigation has been urged to help the PMA mete out justice. In the same week, the Philippine National Police is keeping a close eye on 22 cops who sideline with the drug trade. The Bureau of Corrections, on the other hand, is facing its own dilemma as officials struggle to fan out the controversies surrounding widespread corruption within the country’s penal system.

Apparently, being in uniform doesn’t spare you from acting like a douchebag. So if instilling military discipline doesn’t make the youth any better than those who are already in power, then it’s clear that ROTC only functions as a producer of disposable pawns.

And if Bato dela Rosa really insists on using ROTC as a moral catalyst for the youth, he should expend energy on cleaning the ranks of the police and the armed forces before debating with student leaders over the concept of discipline.