(File photo)

MANILA – The implementation of mandatory military service for Filipinos will help instill patriotism among citizens and help them contribute to nation-building efforts, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday.

"We welcome the proposal as this is attuned to the times while the government is faced with adversities and challenges, aligned with our aspirations for the citizenry to contribute to nation-building," AFP spokesperson, Col. Ramon Zagala, said in a message to reporters.

This is in support of the call of vice presidential bet, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, for mandatory military service for all Filipinos upon turning 18.

Zagala said having mandatory military service would enable the AFP to create a strong manpower base.

"Rendering mandatory military service will only help us to establish a base for strong armed forces, and therefore a strong nation," he said.

The Department of National Defense (DND) also expressed support for the measure.

"We in the DND support the mandatory military service of 18-year-old Filipinos. There are several advantages: First, the military will have a ready and steady trained pool of reservists to defend the country and do HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) work; second, the training and discipline that they will acquire will make them better citizens; third, service to the country will be inculcated in them," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.

Lorenzana, however, noted that the implementation of the measure might encounter a lot of challenges.

"First are the funds and resources. Training camps would need to be established all over the land, and manpower and funds must be allocated to accommodate the millions who will reach the age of 18 every year. Second are the anticipated objections of those who are not inclined to serve in the military. Third, we are not on a war footing and there will be little need of a general mobilization," he said.

Lorenzana said the implementation of a mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in private and public schools is the better alternative.

"We are already starting to implement this in the State Universities and Colleges. This program, which targets the (Grade 11 to 12) levels, will produce a huge number of youths who will form part of our reservists. We feel that the product of the ROTC program is more than sufficient to meet our requirements for warm bodies in case of conflict and in times of calamities and disasters," he added.

During the UniTeam Alliance's virtual caravan on Wednesday, Duterte said she would ask Congress to pass a measure on the imposition of mandatory military service for all 18-year-old citizens, both male and female. (PNA)