THE Armed Forces of the Philippines is set to allocate five percent of the total number of applicants for Filipino Muslims, an AFP official said on Saturday.
Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs, disclosed in a statement that it was Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año who ordered the maximum 5 percent allocation of the total number of aspirants in the military, whether officers, cadets or enlisted personnel, “for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
At present, recruitment quotas in the AFP are 10 percent for female soldiers and 5 percent indigenous people, reinstatement and special enlistment.
The Philippine Army alone has a quota of 3,600 for regular enlistment, of which 360 are for female applicants while 180 for indigenous people this year.
Arevalo said that if the new allocation will be implemented, another 180 slots in the military force will be for the applicants coming from the Muslim communities in the Philippines.
On the other hand, 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.
“With the specific number of recruits to be sourced among Muslim applicants, we hope to be able to organize a battalion of Muslim soldiers,” Arevalo said.
“[In] the long run, a brigade or division [will be]composed of Muslims. They will be appropriately deployed to areas where Islam is the predominant religion,” he added.
Arevalo also stated that Muslim Filipinos who will be recruited as soldiers will “comprise the units best deployable to Muslim communities because of their being abreast” of their knowledge of Islamic culture and sensitivities of the Islam religion.
“Most of our Muslim brothers and sisters perceive the deployment of almost [100 percent] 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.
However, Año said a military force shall represent a cross-section of society and also assured that the focus will also be turned in empowering specific sectors.
“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 [people]and Muslims,” he said.