MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is set to allocate a portion of its recruitment quotas for Muslim applicants.
In a statement on Saturday, April 15, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo said that in future recruitment, the AFP will set aside 5% of the total number of applicants for Muslim Filipinos.
"The AFP Chief of Staff, General Eduardo Año, ordered the allocation of a maximum of 5% of the total number of aspirants in the AFP either as officers, cadets, or enlisted personnel for our Muslim brothers and sisters," Arevalo said.
"We desire an Armed Forces of the Philippines that shall represent a cross-section of our society," Año said in the statement.
"We would like to ensure that as we modernize, we would not be focusing our attention only in armaments and equipment, but in empowering specific sectors within the AFP like women, indigenous peoples, and Muslims," he added.
Currently, all recruitment quotas in the AFP have a 10% allocation for female soldiers and a 5% allotment for indigenous people (IP), reinstatement, and special enlistment, said the AFP.
For instance, in the 3,600 quota of the Philippine Army this year for regular enlistment, 360 would be dedicated to female applicants and 180 either for IPs, reinstatement, or special enlistment.
If the new 5% allocation for Muslim applicants will be implemented, the AFP said that another 180 slots would be dedicated to them in the Army.
For its part, the Philippine Air Force has a quota of 600 for enlisted personnel and 80 for military officers, while the Philippine Navy has 1,660 for enlisted personnel and 140 for officers, said the AFP.
With the specific number of recruits from among Muslim applicants, Colonel Arevalo said the AFP hopes to organize a battalion of Muslim soldiers and, in the long run, a brigade or a division composed of Muslims.
"They will be appropriately deployed to areas where Islam is the predominant religion," he added.
Arevalo said the Muslim soldiers "will comprise the units best deployable to Muslim communities because of their being abreast of the culture and knowledgeable of the sensitivities of the Islam religion."
"Most of our Muslim brothers and sisters perceive the deployment of almost 100% Christian soldiers in their communities as invading or occupational forces. We hope to avoid this through the deployment of pure Muslim units in their communities," he added. – Rappler.com