Gays for military service, anyone?

Gays for military service, anyone?

The top guns in the Philippine military hierarchy have been heard to open recruitment to gays or those with a different sexual orientation – if official pronouncement were to be believed. And this seems first time or was never heard before. Something ought to be happening in the AFP today more than a changing attitude to “democratize”, as if it were, entry to the corps of applicants from across the gender spectrum. If this happens, even lesbians must have the same rights.

Let us see. Offhand, it can be called to mind that a study in the US has been conducted sometime in July 2008 which yields this result – “Evidence shows that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline or cohesion.”

The move alone to allow the recruitment of gays to include waivers to felons is for the military to fill its ranks due to the strain in the war in Iraq. This study initiated by retired high military officials did not fail to cite the military effectiveness of the British and Israeli armed forces in which openly enough, both gays and lesbians are allowed to serve. In fact, this study should have been done earlier since the last study done by the Rand (a US think-tank) some 15 years ago.

Now the top brass in the AFP wants to follow suit. Could they be for real?

Be that as it may, militaries around the world are replete with facts, stories, and accounts of military leaders who are in fact made up of a different sexual orientation but who nonetheless have proven themselves in every field of military life, not least among them did heroic exploits in military wars.

Now apparently, the AFP will recruit some 6,700 more troops that filling this shortage is even taking a hard time. There are no takers, most possibly so – hence even gays or maybe lesbians are welcome to apply. We heard it said officially by the public information officer or let me quote – “We believe that gays and lesbians fit into the military and serve with great distinction. The creativity, talent and cultural force of the “third sex” could serve the nation on the battlefield and in the other areas of public service.”

So then, the AFP copies the US in abandoning or lifting the ban of so-called, “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue law”. Openly and officially enough, military service is open to all gays and lesbians since such sexual orientation is not shown to have negatively impacted on the role of the military in most societies. This new mood from the AFP might even indicate its patronizing advocacy for gay rights or third sex rights, as the case may be. Or so be it.

Defense secretary Teodoro laments the fact that there had been a radical drop in the number of interested applicants for admission to the Philippine Military Academy from a high of 21,051 in 1997 to a low of 7,739 in 2007 over a 10 year gap. Thus they thought that what explains this is preference for high paying jobs, perceived erosion of patriotism, and higher academic requirements, true or not.

More importantly, good secretary Teodoro may have more reason to worry since the average age of troops today stands at 40 and therefore, within the AFP, there is a local problem of a graying population that should be replaced with new recruits or so-called – youngblood. He can then only further lament the abolition of the mandatory ROTC for all college students which was replaced with the National Service Training Program and which was found to be a dismal failure.

Thus, there is an itch to revive the old ROTC law since it serves as a ready pool for its citizen armies as what also happens in modern democracies like Singapore, Taiwan, Israel and Switzerland. Problem is, should it really have to be revived after it has already been ‘outlawed’.

While it is true that ROTC has also been a major source of officers recruited into the major branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Constabulary [now the PNP]), it is even disconcerting to note that those who are sourced from the Philippine Military Academy or other foreign academies are the very ones who constitute the so-called ‘ruling military elites’ in the entire military corps despite the fact that they only represent the minority in terms of population.

One can say this is absurd, totally lopsided. But it is a military given. Officers who are just ROTC graduates or did not graduate from the Philippine Military Academy have become ‘second class officers’ in the corps with them getting slower promotion, less sensitive positions, and even lower slots in foreign schooling. This is really a situation that should have been addressed 20 years ago except that the so-called “mistah culture” is the culprit for this vicious and still happening discrimination against non-peemayers.

As long as there is this “Baguio Mafia” in the military organizations, even gays or lesbians may have to be discriminated against. There is reason to inquire why the top brass of the AFP has not completely addressed this nagging problem that has existed since time immemorial.

It is high time to put all officers in the military in the same class level in terms of seniority and lineal listing. AFP should now do away with the self-deprecating Orwellian tradition. There is no such thing as – “some officers are more equal than others”. This is a misconception. Since all officers – be them peemayers or non-peemayers – pass through the same set of qualification or quality standards, that henceforth, the AFP leadership itself has no right to discriminate against those the PMA did not produce but who may well be graduates of UP, Ateneo, La Salle and honor graduates of other institutions of higher learning. From where I stand, to hell with this scheme and scene in the damned AFP!

It should be immoral for the AFP to perpetuate this racist mentality of patronizing their own kind at the expense of the other segments in the officer corps. It should be immoral for the AFP to violate the promotion cycle by making 100% guarantees of timely promotion only to peemayers than to non-peemayers. I hate to say this but when UP students have to throw rotten eggs to then AFP Chief of Staff, in means simply that there was really something wrong with the AFP.

There is still time left to save the pond, matter-of-factly. Will the officialdom in the AFP please do something about such chronic ills? Not to do so may soon amount to AFP’s – boon or bane.