“The question of patriotism is not learned simply by walking on the ground and carrying a gun,” says Save Our Schools Network
MANILA, Philippines — Groups have denounced Vice Presidential aspirant Sara Duterte’s suggestion to make military service compulsory for Filipinos once they turn 18.
“Vice-presidential candidate Mayor Sara Duterte really showed her true militaristic nature to the voting public when she proposed that young people undergo compulsory military service if ever elected,” Save Our Schools Network said. in a statement on Thursday, January 21.
Save Our Schools Network is an alliance of academic, religious, and civic groups advocating for the resumption of Lumad education.
The group said Sara’s proposal is “totally detached and degraded from the basic need of young people, which is education and decent jobs, things that were heavily impacted by her father’s militaristic pandemic failure.” .
It may be recalled that his father, President Rodrigo Duterte, also made an offer to make the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) compulsory for all students early in his presidency, but this plan fell through. ROTC is a voluntary college program designed to train military reservists.
The younger Duterte, however, went further by asking for compulsory military service for Filipinos once they turn 18.
“Hindi po ROTC lang…. Dapat po, pagtungtong mo ng (Not just ROTC. When you reach) 18, you’ll get a grant, you’ll be asked to serve our country, make his (there at) AFP,” Sara said on Wednesday, Jan. 19, during a “virtual caravan” that featured her running mate Bongbong Marcos Jr and several senatorial candidates backed by the tandem.
Save Our Schools Network stressed that “the question of discipline cannot be solved by subjecting our young people to a militaristic training which is notorious for abusing and murdering its own cadets through hazing and is notorious for the human rights abuses that we suffered”.
“The question of patriotism is not learned simply by walking on the ground and carrying a gun. Patriotism is already taught by schools, especially our Lumad schools which have taught us to defend our ancestral land and environment. But sadly, our Lumad schools are closed and our ancestral lands have been plundered no thanks to his president father who reopened our lands to large-scale mining, plantations and Chinese military and multinational companies,” the group said. .
In a separate statement on Friday January 21, the youth group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan said that any candidate for public office who continues to support and promote militarism should “be seen only as brutal, oppressive and in the service of the single ruling class. ”
“There is something to be said for how, instead of addressing the issues facing everyday Filipinos, Duterte seems determined to make them worse. Offering compulsory military service does nothing to address the surge in COVID-19 cases, rampant corruption in the health sector, and crippling lack of social assistance; in fact, such a proposal would only divert more crucial funds from these issues,” the group said.
The group added that Sara’s push for compulsory military service sends a strong message that “any dissent will be met with force.”
“Youth must work to overturn the oppressive status quo, but candidates like Duterte and Marcos are doing everything in their power to preserve it,” the group said.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sara’s suggestion, while welcome, would be difficult to implement. Moreover, he added, the country is not on a “war footing”. – Rappler.com