THE ARTLETS Student Council (ABSC) condemned the proposal of Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to push for mandatory military service if she wins the race for vice president.
In a statement released Wednesday, the student body described the proposal as “dictatorial and militaristic” as it claimed that the approach won’t solve the country’s problems.
“In the unfortunate case that Sara Duterte wins and lobbies her proposal of mandatory military service, the UST Artlets student body will remain firm in resistance. We deem her proposal to be dictatorial, militaristic, a misplaced priority, and a breeding ground for institutionalized abuse,” the statement read.
The ABSC said mandatory military service would only divert funds and resources from other issues that need immediate attention such as lack of universal healthcare, poor quality education, contractualization, climate change, and poor agricultural landscape.
Carpio, who topped the recent surveys on candidates for vice president, has vowed to lobby for a policy that would make military service mandatory for all 18-year-old Filipinos.
“I will use my office—Office of the Vice President—to talk to Congress and the Senate of the Philippines to make military service for all 18 years old, male and female, mandatory in our country,” she said during a virtual caravan.
Carpio’s proposal is a form of “repression” to those who oppose the government’s “unjust practices and discrimination” against minority groups and would only benefit the “power-hungry and the greedy,” the ABSC said.
“Sara Duterte’s proposal only showed who she is as a candidate; a militarist who works to oppress, a politician who will use force in the face of dissent,” the council added.
The council recalled the killing of Thomasian Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadet Mark Welson Chua, who exposed the corruption of the military service program in 2001. His death led to the passage of a law that made the ROTC optional or voluntary.
“If this can happen within the four walls of one university, what more possible abuses can happen during a time where dictators are on the rise and accountability is almost nowhere to be found?” the ABSC said.
The student government body urged Artlets to vote for competent and committed leaders who are aware that “militarization does not equate to patriotism and social progress.”
“Let us vote for leaders who lead because they are committed to serve the people and not because they are committed to have the people serve them,” it added. F