'We need more jobs': Walden Bello slams Sara Duterte's 'ungrateful citizen' remark after mandatory military service proposal

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2022 10:07 PM

MANILA — Partido Lakas ng Masa vice presidential aspirant Walden Bello on Thursday slammed Sara Duterte-Carpio's remark that he is an "ungrateful citizen" after opposing her mandatory military service proposal.

Duterte-Carpio earlier said that she would push for mandatory military service for all adult Filipinos. 

Bello opposed the proposal, calling it a "mask off" moment for what he called a "dictator-in-waiting." 

Duterte-Carpio then said that he is an "ungrateful citizen" who cannot see the value of those who risk their lives to protect the country.

In a statement, Bello said that Duterte-Carpio's remark is alarming to the Filipino youth.

"Sara [Duterte-Carpio’s] signature legislative initiative is out, and she is right to be extremely defensive about it because it is one that should greatly alarm all of us, especially our young people," Bello said. 

"Does she really think that our youth would be so stupid as to accept her panicky explanation that the purpose of mandatory military training is not to learn how to kill but to engage in disaster relief, physical education, or character building?" he added.

He noted that what the country needs more are jobs that would help develop the country.

"How can Sara be running for the second-highest office in the land when she does not appear to realize that what the Philippines badly needs are more engineers, educators, scientists, medical personnel, artists, farmers, and workers to develop our country, not more soldiers?" he said.

Dispelling Duterte-Carpio's remark that he is an "ungrateful citizen", Bello recalled that he authored the resolution renaming the South China Sea to the West Philippine Sea.

"Madame Mayor, you accuse me of being unpatriotic in opposing your militaristic initiative. If you and your team had done even a modicum of research, you would have realized that I have done more to assert the sovereignty of the country with respect to China than many generals," he said.

"Despite threats from Beijing, a member of the House of Representatives, I led a congressional mission to Pag-Asa Island in the Spratlys in July 2011 to assert our sovereign rights there and led the brave people of that beleaguered outpost in a ceremony to raise and fly our flag."

"And aside from standing up to the Chinese, I have consistently opposed the US presence in this country, having, among other things, co-authored two joint resolutions with the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, seeking the abrogation of the [Visiting Forces Agreement]," he added.

"You owe the country an apology for advancing a foolish proposal that would derail our youth from their pursuit of civilian careers and dreams simply because you want to pander to the generals by offering them another channel to increase their share of the budget."

The previously mandatory military training in college was made optional in 2002 following the controversy that resulted in the death of Mark Chua, a University of Sto. Tomas student. He was allegedly slain by course officers after exposing ROTC fund mismanagement.

The ROTC is now one of the three components of the National Service Training Program, along with Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) and Literacy Training Service (LTS).

Currently, military service in the Philippines is voluntary. However, Article 2, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution provides for the possibility of conscription during wartime. 

Bello and Duterte-Carpio are among the vice presidential candidates included in the national ballot for the upcoming elections in May along with Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Dr. Willie Ong, Rizalito David, Manny Lopez, and Carlos Serapio.

—with reports from Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News

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