Gays in the Philippine Military: Welcomed With Open Arms?

philippines-army

The United States isn’t the only nation struggling with the issue of gays in the military. While President Obama (and others) sort out whether repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is an immediate priority, the Philippine Army is now experiencing the backlash of embracing openly gay service members.

In an interview, Col. Remegio de Vera, commanding officer of the Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (IB) in Cagayan, said that if he will have his way, he would prefer to stick to the traditional military recruitment of straight men and women.

“I don’t have anything against gay people but I am still in the dark, I cannot imagine how they will perform and discharge their duties once they are accepted in the military,” he said.

De Vera’s statement comes on the heels of Army spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., who says the Army is open to anyone willing to serve, including gays. “There will be no discrimination as long as the applicant is physically, emotionally and mentally fit. We will be happy to work and even go to war with them.”

In the Philippines, the decision which emanated from the military top brass has created a stir among some soldiers and “gay hate” groups who still regard “machismo” as the main requirement to be able to enter the military service.

An Army sergeant from Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela — who declined to be named — said he and other troopers will welcome the recruits with open arms but are also worried how gay people can handle life in a war zone. “In combat, we put our lives in the hands of other soldiers. I don’t want to judge their worth but I can’t help but wonder how we can rely on gays, baka alagaan lang namin sila sa halip na makipaglaban sa kaaway,” he said. (Translated as: “Instead of fighting the enemy, we might turn out to be their baby-sitters.”)

At least 3,900 recruits from the 6,700 required by the Armed Forces of the Philippinesd (AFP) this year are needed by the Army. [GMANews]

Fears of gays being too weak to serve in the military, from a nation known for this: