FILE—President Duterte at the Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon Lezion, Israel on Sept. 5, 2018 with his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go. Duterte, Duterte-Carpio and Go are among the 10 candidates running as substitutes in the 2022 elections. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

When asked how she would empower the young generation to take part in nation-building, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said that if she won, she would push for mandatory military service among young adults, both male and female, once they reached the age of 18, or right before they would enter college. She also clarified that her program wouldn’t be like her father President Rodrigo Duterte’s (failed) proposal to revive mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for all males. But like her father—and it shouldn’t come as a surprise—the military mania runs deep in the family and the presidential daughter wants nothing more than to follow her father’s fascist footsteps.

The inspiration behind Sara’s conscription proposal are Israel and South Korea, two countries that are known to mandate military service among young adults: In Israel, all Israeli citizens both men and women over the age of 18. In South Korea, whose enlistment system is well-known to Filipinos crazy over K-drama actors and K-pop idol entertainers, only males are compelled to render military service.

But unlike Israel and South Korea, the Philippines is not on any “war footing” with its neighbors, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Even the maritime dispute with China should not be a basis for compulsory conscription. Even her father, the commander in chief, saw compulsory ROTC not as aiding the country’s external defense or as a means to ward off the China threat: he had wanted it restored to back up his bloody war against drugs. In short, he wants ROTC cadets to assist in his “tokhang” genocide, not to confront China. Despite building on Philippine waters military facilities with their guns pointed at Filipinos, Beijing has been called by President Duterte a “friend.” Sara’s dad is a certified Peking’s duck.

Perhaps Sara should ask herself where she would get the budget for conscription. Lorenzana, while open to the vice presidential candidate’s proposal, said that such would face “huge hurdles.” The government would have to erect training camps all over the country as well as allocate resources, both financial and human, he added. And in Year II of Covid, the country, and its next leaders, should prioritize not only maximizing health care but also post-pandemic economic recovery. 

Sara should consider the glaringly obvious needs of the youth. Would it be really worthwhile for 18-year-olds to give up a pivotal period of their life just to prove their patriotism? Moreover, conscription, like mandatory ROTC, may lead to corruption. Thomasian Mark Welson Chua, blew the whistle on the abuses of the ROTC, was brutally killed and his death still looms over debates of reviving the program. 

Obviously, Sara is truly daddy’s girl. Dad and daughter never learn.


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