The statement of vice-presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to push for mandatory military service for all Filipinos once they turn 18 if she wins her bid for the Vice-Presidency in the 2022 elections has been met with mixed but mostly contrary reactions.
House Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza, who is also running for vice-president, opposed the proposal, saying it had “no real use” in developing the youth. He said the government should instead be molding the youth to become more conscious of their civic duties and become better citizens.
Senatorial candidate and Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares also opposed the proposal, saying the existing optional ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program is already fraught with problems.
Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate Sen. Francis Pangilinan reminded the public that mandatory military training was abolished precisely because it became a “source of rampant corruption and abuses in the past.”
Even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that while he welcomed the idea of drafting 18-year-olds into the military, he pointed out the proposal was hardly feasible. He cited “huge hurdles” to the plan on top of which was that the Philippines was “not on a war footing,” followed by the need for funds and resources to accommodate the millions that will reach the age of 18 every year.
He noted that the implementation of mandatory ROTC, targeting the K-11 and K-12 levels, is already starting in state universities and colleges and is expected to produce “a huge number of youth who will form part of our reservists.”
Mandatory military service for the millions of Filipinos that turn 18 year old every year will cost the country hundreds of billions of pesos annually. Even if they are not paid at least the minimum wage for their service, which should be a crime against humanity, the state will still have to train, equip, house and feed these young Filipinos who belong to one of the most densely populated countries in the planet. Whoever thought that it would benefit the country clearly hasn’t given it enough thought.*