Colmenares, Diokno, Gutoc oppose compulsory military enlistment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 30) – Senatorial aspirants Neri Colmenares, Chel Diokno, and Samira Gutoc expressed strong disapproval of the proposal to require adult Filipinos to serve in the military, saying the government should instead focus on improving the country's education and employment programs.

In the CNN Philippines Senatorial Forum on Sunday, Colmenares said it violates the people’s free will and may be used to promote “repression.”

“I disagree with that completely,” he said of the proposal pushed for by vice presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

“Even just for high school ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps), the students don't need military training, especially if the teachings for the youth is for repression," he added.

Lawyer Diokno raised a similar concern, as he noted how the military was used during the martial law regime “to put people in line and to stifle criticism.”

“I am totally against the mandatory military enlistment,” Diokno said. “Hindi na ba tayo nadala doon sa mga nangyari noon na mga hazing, mga corruption? [Didn’t we learn from past incidents of hazing and corruption?] This is not going to be good for our country.”

Marawi civic leader Gutoc, meanwhile, pointed out the potential challenges the move may pose on certain groups.

“One of the comments on this proposal is that for instance, from the Muslim Filipinos, that will be a bit insensitive to our women who have certain limitations in physicality of movement and even publicly mixing with our men,” she said.

Colmenares argued the job situation in the country requires more immediate attention and that mandatory enlistment may be an added burden to Filipinos, as some are their families' main providers.

The two other senatorial hopefuls stressed the need to instead improve the Philippine education system. Gutoc, in particular, pushed for a strengthened program in schools geared towards disaster preparedness.