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Defense chief wants more men than women for combat duty

/ 01:05 AM March 14, 2017
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

BAGUIO CITY—Women soldiers are fine, but you can’t have too many of them on the battlefield—unless you have a deal with the enemy that allows only same-sex combat.

The question of more women soldiers taking combat duty has come up because most of the Top 10 graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) this year, including the class valedictorian, are women.

There were only two men in the Top 10 of PMA Class of 2017. Of the 167 members of the class, 63 were women.

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That, however, was “just an aberration,” according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

He explained that this year’s graduating class had many women because there were many female cadets turned back in previous years. At the same time, many male cadets were dismissed.

20-percent quota

The PMA imposes a 20-percent quota for female cadets and this will remain, according to Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año.

The military needs more male soldiers for combat duty, Lorenzana said.

“We need women in the military but we need more people for the field, for the combat units. We need platoon leaders and company commanders,” he told reporters here on Sunday.

It is unlikely for women to  dominate the military, he said.

“I think it would not probably happen that they would dominate, that there would be more women in the Armed Forces, because there are very practical considerations you have to consider when you bring women to combat,” he said.

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These include where women soldiers would sleep and how they would go to the toilet, Lorenzana said.

Protective of women

Men, he added, could sleep beside each other under the stars.

“We don’t want to subject our women to that. We are protective of our women,” he said.

Office duties currently handled by men could be given to the women so that the men could go to the field, he said.

Asked if this meant female soldiers were meant only for the offices, Lorenzana said the women could go to combat if they wanted.

“The problem is if they are married and they get pregnant. Where would you put them?” he said.

Año said the PMA would maintain the quota for female cadets, and it would adjust the quota in succeeding years if there were too many women.

“We need more males in the frontline units. So it would be balanced. But, of course, we have gender advancement and development, so we would give them equal opportunity for the line positions, where women could also serve,” he said.

Female commanders

Año noted that there had  been female officers, including Col. Leah Lorenzo, who had served as line commanders on the field and had been given the Gold Cross, the military award for gallantry.

President Duterte, speaking at the PMA graduation on Sunday, hailed Class of 2017 as “historic” for having an unprecedented number of women in the Top 10 and in the class.

“Today, we make history. This is the first time female cadets occupied eight of the Top 10 spots in their graduating class. With the highest number of graduating women in PMA history, this breakthrough is a fitting tribute to our mothers, sisters and daughters as we celebrate Women’s Month,” Mr. Duterte said.

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TAGS: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Military, Philippine Military Academy, Philippine news updates, women soldiers
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