Mandatory Military Enlistment: Agree or Not?
Last January 19, 2022, Sara Duterte, daughter of the current president of the Philippines who’s seeking a position for vice president, shared a controversial proposal that created a clamor and various discussions on social media. According to her and I quote, “Hindi po ROTC lang…. Dapat po, pagtungtong mo ng 18 years old, you’ll be given a subsidy, you’ll be asked to serve our country, doon sa AFP” which translates, “Not just ROTC. When you turn 18 years old, you’ll be given a subsidy, you’ll be asked to serve our country there at the AFP.”
To be fair, I read the opinion of both sides; those who agree and those who don’t. I tried to filter and reconstruct the thought into a simpler and more digestible manner, and here’s what I got. Let’s check the advantage first.
According to the opinion of those who agree to mandatory military enlistment, there are several advantages.
First, the military will have a ready and consistent pool of trained reservists to defend the country and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Second, the training and discipline they will receive will make them better citizens; and third, they will be instilled with a sense of service to the country. This is also what Delfin Lorenza said, head of National Defense.
Now that we have heard the advantages, let's proceed to the disadvantages.
According to the opposing group, mandatory military enlistment has several disadvantages.
First, it will violate the freedom of individuals involved; second, It will just promote violence; third, it will put risk to the lives of individuals; and fourth, it will need a huge amount of funding.
Upon reading and analyzing both sides, I realize that there are so many things to be considered before implementing mandatory military enlistment.
We are not at war.
This is the main thing to be considered. The Philippines is not at war and we don't have any threats of any colonial invasion. Things like war, fighting with other countries with missiles, rockets, guns, and other deadly weapons are so impractical and outdated to our current generation. We already learned our lessons from past world conflicts where thousands of people died and economic growth was stunted, and I think countries won't sacrifice these things just for a thing that can be resolved through effective communication and other ways.
Our problem with China today can be resolved in a more peaceful way. We can talk to our big allies, especially America and Japan to unite with us and provide protection on our seas.
Discipline can be started at home.
This is also one of the claims of those who agree to mandatory military enlistment; people will be more disciplined and be better citizens. Bakit hindi ba 'to nagagawa sa bahay?
Discipline starts at home. Parents should be the first ones who inculcate good values in their children and not other people. If this is the main reason why the government wants to throw 18 years olds to military camps, then we should reflect if teaching them to hold guns will make them better people.
If the government truly wants to implement mandatory military enlistment, they need to provide huge funding for building new and improved military camps that will accommodate thousands of students. Aside from that, they also need to buy new military equipment, provide students' necessities for 18 months, salary for those people who will teach and train, et cetera.
The money that will be used on this proposal can be used for other important things. For instance, building additional schools and improving the educational system.
And lastly, how can we be so sure if the government will carry all the possible expenses and not pass them on to the families.
We are aware that some of the military students don't make it out alive because of hazing. If the government can’t resolve this issue in military camps, this poses great risks to the lives of individuals who are required to join in mandatory military enlistment.
In my opinion, there's no concrete reason why we need to have mandatory military service. There are a lot of things to consider. And if we're seeking its advantages; to have trained reservists, to discipline people, and instill the sense of serving the nation, I think there are different ways to do that.
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