THE Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) "strongly supports" the proposal of Davao City Mayor and vice presidential aspirant Sara Duterte-Carpio to implement a mandatory military service for Filipinos aged 18 years old.

Eastmincom commander Lieutenant General Greg Almerol said in a press release that the youth's role is vital to the country's peace and development.

"We believe that the role of our youth in the peace, development, and stability of our country is vital given the current security situation both internal and external," Almerol said.

He said other countries had mandated the youth aged 18 or above to serve their armed forces mandatorily for two years.

"If the proposal will push-through, we will have a massive human resource that can readily respond for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response operations," the military official said.

He also cited the mayor's proposal will instill discipline, develop leadership, and nurture patriotism among the young members of our society, which are necessary to be acquired by our next leaders.

“In fact, some of our great presidents and national leaders in the past have also served in the armed forces during their youth before they took the helm of the highest seat in our government and other national positions,” Almerol said.

He said the proposal will spare our youth from the indoctrination and recruitment of organizations that have links to the communist New People's Army (NPA), violent extremist organizations, and other lawless elements.

"The communist NPA and other notorious groups take advantage of the vulnerabilities and idealism of our youth, especially students and Indigenous Peoples, to lure them in joining their lawless and criminal activities," Almerol said.

Duterte-Carpio said in a virtual event that 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.

The Department of National Defense (DND), along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) had already expressed support to the proposal.

The proposal, however, had also met opposition.

Walden Bello, another vice presidential aspirant, criticized the mayor's proposal, saying the mayor is slowly showing the "dictatorship" side of her father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte-Carpio immediately responded, saying that only the likes of Bello would think of mandatory military service for Filipino citizens “as arming them and telling them to kill -- instead of looking at it as something that inspires patriotism in the youth.”