By: Jaime Sinapit, InterAksyon.com November 25, 2013 2:35 PM
MANILA, Philippines -- Women dominated the latest Officer Candidate Course of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, leading the graduates in all three service branches.
“There are a lot of areas where women excel more than men,” Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista told the 140 graduates of the OCC during ceremonies attended by President Benigno Aquino III at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
In his speech to the OCC graduates, Mr. Aquino praised the crucial role of soldiers in all phases of response to the devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda---as first responders involved in rescue, retrieval, clearing of roads and debris from public infrastructure, to providing relief goods--especially food and water-- to the most isolated areas.
The new Army officers were led by Probationary 2Lieutenant Mary Jean B. Cabillete, those from the Air Force by P/2Lt. Kristyl May A. Beatingo, and the Navy by P/Ensign Vanessa Katrina J. Tulang.
Recipients of the Secretary of National Defense Saber were P/2LT. Shiela Mae T. Enderez (Army); P/2LT. John Red A. Honrales (PAF); and P/ENS. Tiffany Ann P. Palmares (Navy).
The Chief of Staff Saber was awarded to P/2LT. Mike Vergel L. Conception (Army); P/2LT. Janna B. Ontong (PAF); and P/ENS. Eunice Fe M. Sabado (Navy).
“May gender equality tayo sa Armed Forces (We have gender equality in the Armed Forces). So, regardless of gender you can aspire for any awards, rewards, any position. We give equal opportunity to everybody. Maraming areas na maasahan natin ang kababaihan (There are many areas in which we can depend on our women),” he said.
The AFP chief said women have been assigned to combat duties in infantry battalions, with a number of them having been wounded in action.
At the same time, Bautista urged the new officers to involve themselves in reforming the military.
“The AFP that you are joining today is in the midst of a transformation. Now, you all have the responsibility of shaping and leading this transformation, in the spirit of the vision and renewed call to reform inspired by our President,” he said.
“Take pride in the uniform that you wear, and in the patriotic duty that you will perform as protector of the people and of the State, in the attainment of our vision of being a world-class armed forces, source of national pride; and in our commitment to winning just and lasting peace for our nation,” he added.
Of the 140 new officers, 55 are assigned to the Army, 40 to the Navy and 45 to the Air Force.