Youth group slams Sara Duterte’s mandatory military service proposal

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES - OCTOBER 16: Armed jail guards and police secure the perimiter of a local funeral parlor where Reina Mae NAsino, a detained human rights activist will attend the burial of her three month old daughter on October 16, 2020 in Manila, Philippines.  23-year-old human rights activist Reina Mae Nasino was pregnant when she was arrested during, what rights groups claim, a widening crackdown on groups critical of the government. She gave birth to River Nasino while in detention in Manila City Jail but authorities separated her from her child. The baby later died after three months out of her care. Persecution of political opposition and groups critical to the government is worsening under Dutertes government. Around 328 political activists were killed since Duterte came into power. 646 political prisoners are currently detained and around 65 percent of that happened under Dutertes rule, says Jigs Clamor of human rights group, Karapatan. Earlier this year, Philippines congress did not renew the franchise of a major TV network, ABS-CBN, for being airing critical news against Duterte, that ultimately  forced the station to shutdown its operations.  A youth group criticited mandatory military service proposal by vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio, saying the Philippines is better off funding other sectors. (Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Armed jail guards and police secure the perimiter of a local funeral parlor where Reina Mae Nasino, a detained human rights activist will attend the burial of her three month old daughter on October 16, 2020 in Manila, Philippines. A youth group criticited mandatory military service proposal by vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio, saying the Philippines is better off funding other sectors. (Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

Kabataan Party-list (Youth Party-list) first nominee and national president Raoul Manuel criticized the proposal of vice presidential aspirant Sara Duterte to impose mandatory military service for all 18-year-old citizens should she be elected to power.

Mandatory military service daw, sabi ng anak. Bakit, hindi pa ba dumarami ang pumapasok sa AFP kahit dinoble na ng ama ang sahod? Hindi pa ba kinakagat ng taumbayan ang propaganda ng NTF-ELCAC na walang abusong nangyayari sa AFP?” he said.

(She [Sara Duterte] wants mandatory military service. How come? Is the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) recruitment not improving despite Duterte doubling their salary? Are the people not convinced by NTF-ELCAC’s [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict] propaganda that there are no abuses happening in the AFP?)

He said that the government should prioritize other sectors, especially under a pandemic.

Baka lang din nakalimutan ng mga Duterte na nasa pandemya pa rin tayo na hindi makontrol ng gobyerno nila. Mas kailangan natin ang mga doktor sa baryo, mga siyentista, guro, at iba pang mga munting bayani. Mas mainam na dito mapunta ang pondo at rekurso ng bansa,” the nominee said.

(Perhaps the Dutertes have forgotten that we are still in a pandemic that they’ve failed to control. Now more than ever do we need doctors to the barrios, scientists, educators, and other honorable heroes. It is far more important that the country’s funds go to them.)

No less than Department of National Defense (DND) secretary Delfin Lorenzana is hesitant on the idea of implementing mandatory military services, stressing that the Philippines is “not on war footing.” However, he suggested that the existing Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program be imposed instead in public and private schools.

Manuel is against this idea as well, citing the culture of abuse in military institutions.

Delikado rin ito. Minsan ang istilong militar na disiplina ay humahantong pa sa abuso at kahit pagkamatay ng kadete. Di natin makakalimutan ang nangyari kay Darwin Dormitorio at kay Jonash Bondoc,” Manuel said.

(This is dangerous as well. Sometimes, militaristic style of discipline leads to abuses and even the deaths of cadets. We will never forget what happened to Darwin Dormitorio and Jonash Bondoc.)

Dormitorio and Bondoc both died by hazing during their studies in military schools.

“Kahit sa ROTC may mga ulat tayong natatanggap ng pananakit sa mas nakabababa. Malinaw na di ito nagkataon at may kultura ng karahasan at bulag na pagsunod na nanonoot sa ating armed forces na tumatagos sa kanilang training. Huwag nang ipilit sa lahat kung maaaring may mapahamak,” he said.

(Even in ROTC, we have received reports of subordinates being abused. It is clear how the armed forces’ culture of violence and blind obedience has reached their training. It shouldn’t be forced upon everyone, for somebody could be harmed.)

Manuel recommended that the current National Service Training Program (NSTP), of which ROTC falls under, must be reviewed so there is “sufficient basis for reforms”, among other suggestions.

Kung gusto nating palakasin ang diwang makabayan ng kabataan, ibalik at pagbutihin natin ang pag-aaral ng kasaysayan ng Pilipinas sa high school. Suportahan natin ang mga lokal na organisasyon ng kabataan sa komunidad, pati ang mga konseho at publikasyon ng mga mag-aaral. Doon unang matututunan ang simpleng paglingkod sa sambayanan,” he said.

(If we want to strengthen the youth’s patriotism, we have to return the study of Philippine history in high school. We have to support local youth organizations in communities, even student councils and publications. The youth can learn how to serve the people through those.)

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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