Karapatan slams Sara Duterte’s proposal for military conscription

Photo by Miguel de Guzman/Philippine Star

Military conscription violates basic civil and political rights, human rights alliance Karapatan asserted on Thursday, as the group slammed Sara Duterte’s proposal to make military service in the country mandatory should she become vice president.

“Mandatory military service or conscription, especially with the current prevalent repressive military institutions that we have, will not only bring about involuntary servitude or forced labor. It violates basic civil and political rights such as the right to freedom of thought, beliefs, and conscience, especially if you are forced to provide service or fight in unjust wars or repressive endeavors of the State,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

In a virtual forum yesterday, January 19, Duterte said “gagamitin ko ang aking opisina — Office of the Vice President — para kausapin ang ating Congress and the Senate of the Philippines to make military service for all 18 years old, male and female, mandatory in our country” if she wins the vice-presidential post in the upcoming national elections.

Palabay, however, averred that such “policy has resulted in tortures, arbitrary arrests and detention, and other human rights violations in countries where mandatory conscription is implemented.”

“Furthermore, conscription violates the right to conscientious objection to military service — which is recognized by the United Nations Human Rights Council as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” the Karapatan official cited.

“Harnessing citizens’ civic duty to their country and the people is best promoted not through such draconian measures but through promotion of human and people’s rights through education and various activities and by upholding governance that addresses the roots of poverty and injustice, enjoins and inspires the defense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity, and caters to the well-being and welfare of the people,” she ended.