A proposal to make military service mandatory for Filipinos who turn 18 is exactly what this country doesn’t need.
At a campaign event, vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio, the eldest daughter of President Duterte, said if she is elected, she would lobby Congress to make military service mandatory.
She offered few details about her plan―only that conscripts would be given an unspecified subsidy during their unspecified period of service in the Armed Forces.
“We see this in other countries like South Korea and Israel,” she said―as if this were reason enough for us to follow suit.
Predictably, the proposal drew criticism from her rivals for the vice presidency, one of whom called it “a step in the wrong direction.” Another said the proposal exposed Duterte-Carpio’s true militaristic bent―just like her father’s. An opposition candidate for senator said the proposal laid bare Duterte-Carpio’s lack of understanding regarding security concerns and was “wrong on so many levels.”
Just as predictably, leftist groups denounced the suggestion, with one saying it was “totally detached… from the basic needs of the youth, which are education and proper jobs.” Another group said mandatory military service would do nothing to address the country’s most pressing problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic and rampant corruption.
But ironically, the most compelling reasons not to make military service mandatory came from Defense Secretary Delfin Lazaro, who said there was simply no need for such a program, which would be difficult to legislate and costly to implement.
“There are huge hurdles in implementing this,” Lorenzana said, adding that the country was not on “war footing” and that there would be “little need for general mobilization.”
Funding would also be a problem, he said.
“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,” he said.
Lorenzana also pointed to the “anticipated objections of those not inclined to serve in the military.”
This hard-nosed assessment from the leader of the country’s military establishment speaks volumes, in contrast to Duterte-Carpio’s thinly disguised attempt to curry political favor from men and women in uniform.
And South Korea and Israel? Surely Duterte-Carpio must know that both countries have very real, armed threats along their borders. South and North Korea have never formally ended their war, and Israel is surrounded by hostile states that wish to see it destroyed. We have no such external threats that would warrant general mobilization, unless you count our “friends” from Beijing, who surely must have given her father a bad back from all the kowtowing in the last six years.