Gays may enroll at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) but risk a reprimand from a military school proud of its “macho” tradition if they display effeminate behavior.
PMA officials insist they do not discriminate against gays but they expect them to behave the way cadets should. In any case, they say, gay cadets eventually leave the PMA anyway before completing the four-year course because they cannot stand the rigors of training.
The PMA position appears to be in contrast to the stance taken by US President Barack Obama and the American Congress, which in September last year formally repealed a 17-year-old discriminatory law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
The abolished American law banned openly gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from military service. Obama said the law’s repeal meant that members of the US Armed Forces “will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love.”
According to the PMA superintendent, Major General Nonato Peralta Jr., the country’s premier military training school does not turn away applicants because they are gay. He said that would be a violation of human rights.
But he admitted that having gays was not yet quite accepted in the PMA.
“We do not prohibit them. As it is in Filipino culture, (gays are) not yet very acceptable outright. So Philippine society is under transition. That is also how it is in the PMA. We cannot say (gays are) prohibited. No, they’re not prohibited,” Peralta stressed to reporters Tuesday during a visit to the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo.
Captain Agnes Flores, PMA spokesperson, said gays were not discriminated against but “once they are admitted to the PMA they are required to behave the way the cadets are supposed to behave.”
“So anyone who displays gay behavior would be reprimanded because that’s not what is expected of them. They enter our institution and they are to follow the rules and regulations of our organization,” she stressed.
Flores claimed that school officials had observed that gay cadets apparently could not cope with the demands of training.
“They last as long as they can stand the training (until) they themselves say they cannot take it anymore and they leave the Academy,” she said.
High survival rate
On the other hand, women cadets have a “high survival rate” and make it through graduation, Flores said.
“They (the gays) left because they cannot cope with the training. It’s not because they are discriminated against but because of the requirements in training,” she said.
Flores admitted there were some gays among PMA graduates but she said these military officers did not show gay behavior while in the Academy.
“From experience, there are (gay PMA graduates). Maybe he was able to graduate because during the training in the Academy there was no opportunity for his (gay) tendencies (to show). When he left the academy that’s when it came out,” Flores said.
She pointed out that PMA gay graduates were not known to have abused their position as military officers.
The PMA will hold its annual entrance exams this year on August 26 in 37 testing centers nationwide. The incoming batch will compose the PMA Class 2017.
For the first time, the PMA has lowered the height requirement for both male and female applicants to 5 feet. Previously, the height requirement was 5’4” for male applicants and 5’2” for female applicants.
The other requirements are: one should be a natural-born Filipino citizen, physically fit and of good moral character, single and has never been married, at least a graduate of high school, without administrative or criminal cases and should have been born between April 1, 1991 and April 1, 1996.
The PMA has lifted the required minimum average grade of 85 for high school graduates who wish to enter the PMA. Submission of applications is until August 15.