More women joining AFP

More and more women are joining the military, sharing their collective expertise for the good of the organization, the country and the Filipino people.
Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dennis D. Dellosa even cited the increasing role of women in celebrating the International Women’s Month in the predominantly male military organization.
This year’s national celebration of the women’s month circles around the theme, “Women Weathering Climate Change: Governance and Accountability, Everybody’s Responsibility.” It is the government’s recognition of the renewed role of women in environmental, political, and other social reforms.
Today, the AFP has 1,054 female officers and 2,905 female personnel who enjoy the same privileges, facilities for growth and achievement in defending the freedom that their predecessors have fought for and won with their lives.
There are women combat pilots in the Philippine Air Force (PAF) where it was dominated by men before.
“Our female soldiers’ role in engaging various stakeholders (is) to cooperate and participate in our internal security operations,” Dellosa said.
He said women soldiers were also involved in the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan as well as in disaster response and relief operations.
Dellosa said that women soldiers excelled in their field duties and assignments. “We have female soldiers who are performing well in combat operations. They are physically and mentally resilient and can cope with the harsh conditions in their field of duty,” Dellosa said.
Recognizing the potentials of women, the Philippine Military Academy (AFP) opened its gates to the first female cadets in 1993.
Dellosa said women have had their fair share of battles as proven by a long list of female revolutionaries in Philippine history.
The same courage and leadership exhibited by men also flowed in the veins of the likes of Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang and Teresa Magbanua who stood among their male counterparts in the Philippine revolt against Spanish colonizers.
These values were passed on to thousands of female officers and personnel in the AFP, Dellosa said.
With the Gender and Development Focal Point adhering to the Republic Act 9710, or the Magna Carta for Women, female soldiers and cadets are afforded the same rights, privileges, opportunities, roles, and even hardships that are initially given to men.
Brig. Gen. Ramona Go is the first female line officer to become a general in the AFP, making her the face of women empowerment in the military.
Go is still in the active service and concurrently the assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel (AJ1) of the AFP. Her previous assignment was adjutant general, AFP.
On her way up, Go felt that the changes being employed to accommodate the entry of women have been effective.
“I never felt isolated in the military bureaucracy because I was given tasks where I was very effective. In the Army, women are employed according to their capabilities,” she said.
“Women of the AFP are the subtle energies that stamp a difference in the wholeness of the military organization,” she said.
She said that this “difference” has been her mantra in her whole career, starting from when she first joined the active duty in 1982 until now that she has her first star on her shoulders.
Following her footsteps are the female cadets in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), among them are Cadet Maila Maniscan and Cadet Dianne Jane Aragona ,who are consistently in the top 10 of their class. “Surpassing the rigid training here (in the PMA) only proves how strong and determined I am in finishing what I have started. Being a female in the Academy does not hinder me in my development as a future leader of the nation,” says Aragona who is looking forward to her entry to the active military service a few years from now as a commissioned officer.
In the opening of the Women’s Month Celebration here at the General Headquarters’ Canopy Area on March 5, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin relayed the start of a several activities aimed at recognizing the dynamic role played by women in various societal concerns, especially in emerging environmental issues.
“In line with this year’s theme, a series of activities are lined up to celebrate women’s month. There will be a nationwide tree-planting by women as part of the National Greening Program of national government, of which the Department of National Defense and AFP are actively participating in,” Gazmin said.
“There will also be a ‘Magna Carta for Women Information Caravan’ to raise awareness among different stakeholders, and the conduct of various other fora for consciousness-raising on gender and climate change,” he said.
For his part, Dellosa gave his personal account of his recognition of the roles of women in and out of service.
“I look at my wife and daughter and see immense potential for growth and self-fulfillment. I am thankful that more and more women are joining the AFP and sharing their individual potentials for the good of the organization and the people we serve,” he said..
He said that the AFP had made significant improvements in ensuring that facilities, trainings and career opportunities were equally available for both sexes “in accordance with the Magna Carta for Women.”
The AFP has pushed for stronger protection of women from harassment and violence, as well as of their tenure in the service, he said.
As part of the International Women’s Month celebration, Mrs Rhodora Gazmin and Mrs Mary Rose Dellosa are the invited guests at the opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Livelihood Bazaar at the Camp Aguinaldo Grandstand Parking Area on Monday.
The bazaar is a project of the Gender and Development of the Department of National Defense and AFP.