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Military service for all 18-year-olds

Philippine vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte said she will push mandatory military service for the young people if elected, signalling she would continue with advocating a policy that her father had struggled to implement as president.

Sara, President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter and an Army reservist, said she plans to use the vice president’s office to urge Congress to pass a military conscription law, similar to policies in South Korea and Israel.

She wants mandatory military service for all citizens reaching the age of 18, and it should include disaster-preparedness training.

Her proposal drew some amusement on social media with Filipinos speculating if Sara had watched the South Korean dramas wildly popular in the Philippines that feature young protagonists enlisting with the military. 

Another vice-presidential candidate, former Congressman Walden Bello was more critical.

“Public service, disaster preparedness, social welfare — none of these need military service. They need the exact opposite: demilitarization,” he said in a tweet. 

For years, President Duterte has pushed to require military training, but the proposal didn’t gain traction despite his wide support among lawmakers.

The Philippine leader has sought to build a reserve force to augment the military in the midst of security issues including China’s presence in the South China Sea.

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