A Historical Perspective of the Mandatory Service Policy in the Philippines: A Document Analysis

Paolo Victor N. Medina, Danika Joy D. Bardelosa, Aubrey B. Lara, Michelle D. Avelino, Azar G. Agbon, Ma. Rhenea Anne M. Cengca, Demi Arantxa C. Sepe, Mikko Anthony L. Ting, Jonathan P. Guevarra, Carl Abelardo T. Antonio


Background: The Philippines has, mandatory service policies to address the insufficiency and maldistribution of human resources particularly for health services. Despite being perceived as an appropriate intervention to bridge the aforementioned HRH gaps, the past and present implementations of such programs in the country have never been formally studied.

Objective: This paper aimed to present the history of mandatory service programs in the Philippines, look at their natures, and see how their different implementations relate to each other.
Method: Using a qualitative document analysis method, administrative issuances and reports relevant to past and current implementations of mandatory service policies in the Philippines were obtained and reviewed.

Results: Mandatory service programs have been implemented in the country by institutions from both the private and public sectors as early as 1968. The focus of such has been mostly for government positions and specialized professions including physicians and scientists. While extensive efforts have been made through the years, the policies demonstrated fragmentation and recurring gaps in implementation. Such gaps include the lack of enabling policy mechanisms, formal monitoring and evaluation, and program institutionalization.

Conclusion: The historical narrative of return service programs in the country is a potential source for the development of an overarching mandatory service policy framework for human resources in the Philippines, one that is specific to the context and setting of the country. By articulating policy issues identified, this paper provided a stepping-off point for future mandatory service program policy planning, implementation, evaluation, and institutionalization in the Philippines.


Mandatory Service; Human resources for health; Return Service Agreement; Philippines

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Print ISSN: 2704-3517; Online ISSN: 2783-042X