Davao City Mayor and vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte aims to push through the mandatory military service for Filipinos, should she win as vice president in the May elections.
The military service will then apply to all Filipinos upon reaching age 18. According to Duterte in the virtual caravan of the UniTeam Alliance last Wednesday, “Gagamitin ko ang aking opisina (I will use my office), Office of the Vice President, para kausapin ang ating (to talk to our) Congress and the Senate of the Philippines to make military service for all 18 years old, male and female, mandatory in our country.”
The mayor further cited countries such as Israel and South Korea who also require military service from their citizens. Moreover, Duterte added that it will be unlike ROTC and the duration will not be a weekend or a month. A subsidy will also be provided and citizens will be serving the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson, also stated support for the mayor’s proposal. “We welcome the proposal as this is attuned to the times while the government is faced with adversities and challenges, aligned with our aspirations for the citizenry to contribute to nation-building,” Zagala says.
He also added, “Rendering mandatory military service will only help us to establish a base for strong armed forces, and therefore a strong nation.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, however, noted challenges that the proposal may entail. He stated, “First are the funds and resources. Training camps would need to be established all over the land, and manpower and funds must be allocated to accommodate the millions who will reach the age of 18 every year. Second are the anticipated objections of those who are not inclined to serve in the military. Third, we are not on a war footing and there will be little need of a general mobilization.”
Lorenzana then added that mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) may be a better alternative for private and public schools.
Sara Duterte’s father, President Rodrigo Duterte, has been pushing since his election in 2016 to revive the mandatory ROTC.
However, ROTC remains only optional as one of the three courses under the National Service Training Program due to the NSTP Act of 2001. The act was passed after the death of Mark Chua, ROTC Officer from the University of Santo Tomas. It is believed that his death was linked to the university’s ROTC unit’s alleged irregularities.