MANILA - A bill supposedly seeking to impose mandatory military service on all Filipinos was flagged by a solon on Friday.
Kabataan Party List Rep. Raoul Manuel identified the bill as the proposed National Defense Act of 2022, which was filed by House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Sandro Marcos, and Tingog Party-list Rep. Jude Acidre.
Manuel noted that under Article 1 Section 4 of the proposed law under preliminary provisions, “military service shall be mandatory for all citizens of the Philippines, and the methods and procedures for the classification, selection, examination, induction, training, employment, and release of all citizens from their military obligations shall be prescribed by the President."
Under the section, "the registration of citizens for mandatory military service shall be a military function carried out by the component services through their respective reserve commands” and that “during a mobilization, the President, through the Secretary of National Defense, shall have the power to secure all such resources as maybe necessary for national defense.”
The youth representative also noted the bill's Article 3, Section 77, which states that all Filipinos, natural born or naturalized, will be mandated to undergo "basic, suitable, and sufficient military training and education for a minimum of 2 years of mandatory military service."
“So ibig sabihin 'yan pala yung combo na gusto nila. Meron ka mandatory (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) sa senior high school, tapos lahat pa ng Filipino eh ire-require for military service,” Manuel said in the weekly Makabayan bloc press conference,
Similar provisions were already present in the 1935 National Defense Act or Commonwealth Act No. 1, he noted.
Under the legislation's Section 3, “military service shall be obligatory for all citizens of the Philippines, and the methods and procedure for the classification, selection, examination, induction, training, and release of all citizens from their military obligations shall be as prescribed in Title III of this Act."
Manuel said the proposed bill's provisions are only meant to stifle dissent.
“Meron ba tayong giyera na pinaghahandaan kasi 'yung mga bansa na nanghihimasok sa bansa natin. Todo attract nga tayo nanliligaw nga tayo sa kanilang foreign capital ... wala naman tayong giyerang pinaghahandaan kaya ang magiging purpose nito ay paano pa lalong i-pacify 'yung mga tao, paanong kontrolin yung kritikal na pagiisip ng mamamayan,” he said.
Acidre, meanwhile, said the bill does not require mandatory military service in normal times.
"It requires mandatory military service for all citizens only when the President mobilizes the nation 'in case of actual invasion or when public safety requires.' Any mobilization plan, according to our proposed measure, shall conform to the provisions of the Constitution. Military service in war time does not only involve carrying guns and shooting people. There are also priests, doctors, nurses, engineers and other professionals needed for their service in war," he said.
In his first State of the Nation Address earlier this July, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., the father of Rep. Marcos, said a new National Defense Act was one of the administration's priorities.
Marcos Jr. also said he wants to bring back mandatory ROTC for senior high school students, which was strongly opposed by several lawmakers and security experts.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said the proposed ROTC restoration is just a ploy to give the military access to schools.
“Etong ROTC na ito paraan lang ito para makapasok ang militar (at) mga kapulisan sa mga eskwelahan na 'di dapat kasi sa international law, schools should be safe space for our children,” she said. - with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News