A group of Christian youth activists in Manila shaved their heads on Wednesday, December 14, to dramatize their protest against the proposed mandatory military service for young people.
“We shave our heads in protest against forced conscription by Mandatory [Reserve Officers Training Corps] or any reiteration of it like the [National Citizens’ Service Training] program,” said Kej Andres, spokesperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines.
Andres said the proposal “will only produce an army of docile youth brainwashed by the [Armed Forces of the Philippines’] culture of blind obedience.”
In the past, there were reports of cases of hazing, sexual assault, and other kinds of abuses in the implementation of the compulsory military service.
“Many have also claimed that they have been threatened,” said Andres in a statement released to the media on Wednesday.
The Christin youth group also condemned the fastracking of the passage of the law in Congress.
“We refuse to be minions, to be fodder in AFP’s all-out war against the people,” said Andres, adding that the youth “can channel their God-given talents toward civic service without being involved in the abusive and violent programs of the [military].”
House Bill No. 6468 authored by House Speaker Martin G. Romualdez was approved last week by the committee on technical and higher education.
Under the proposed measure, the government would “enhance the capacity of its citizens to mobilize and perform their constitutional duty to render personal military or civil service to the [country] in times of calamities and disasters, national or local emergencies, rebellion, invasion or war” through the training program.
A Senate counterpart bill was filed on November 28, which seeks to reinstitute a two-year voluntary advance ROTC program at the tertiary level.
The ROTC requirement was abolished in 2002 after Republic Act 9163 established the National Service Training Program.
Moves to abolish the compulsory military training program were prompted by the murder of a private university student who spoke out on corruption within the ROTC system involving students paying off military training officers to skip the requirement.
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