TODAY, December 6, the remains of Dr. Ricardo Rotoras will be laid at the Cagayan de Oro Campus of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP).

At least three groups have committed to sponsor Catholic masses within the day on different schedules, and public viewing is expected to attract voluminous attendance from the USTP community and from other sectors.

Up to now, some people, especially within the school community, has not yet synced in to the fact that the USTP system president has passed away, and not just by natural death but in a brutal manner. It was plain murder.

Last Monday night in what supposed to be a gleeful party organized by Globe Telecommunications with other media colleagues, people can’t help discuss about the sudden death of Rotoras and recalled how they remembered him even before he became president.

They also recalled other issues, and Rotoras’ predecessors, surrounding when it was just then named as Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State College, and how it came to be as USTP CDO Campus now.

It was not a question how Rotoras transformed the then DMMMSC to what it is today. Looking back at the old photos, and the workforce, the transformation itself is Rotoras’ pinnacle achievement; albeit there are areas that have still to be improved, such as being ever present and active in the community and the press, in order to let the promising innovations produced in this institution to be known to the public.

As of the moment, justice remains vague. Although affidavits have been prepared to those who testified, investigators are still in the process of triangulating circumstantial evidences. We can only hope that it will be resolved soon. But we can’t also help but fear that this might be buried in time without answers, knowing well how slow our justice system.

The Department of Justice has stepped in, the Commission on Higher Education has already issued statements of condemnation, including Senators who were able to know him in previous Senate hearings on matters related to tertiary education. After all, he is the national president of Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges.

The whole week is about mourning and trying to move on with the usual workflow. We still have curriculum reviews to take care with, and classes to attend to. I have seen people in the workplace wept, it must have been very hard for them.

Now, the question is, what USTP would become after Rotoras’ death? It’s planned main campus in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental alone is worth billions. It cannot be denied that there is going to be anxieties and doubts, now that the president is dead, we are left with our own interpretation on how are we going to continue his legacy and fulfill his views for USTP.

This is more challenging to the officials who will assume his post. More challenging for the students, who are hopeful that they still enjoy the free tuition as they yearn to get their degrees.

*****

(Nefluczon@gmail.com)