2017 has been a great year for women in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). It may be recalled that 63 out of 167 cadets who graduated on March 12 are women. That's the most number of female cadets since women were accepted into the PMA 24 years ago. Moreover, eight of the top 10 of PMA Class Salaknib (Sangalang ay Lakas at Buhay Para sa Kalayaan ng Inang Bayan) graduates are women—including valedictorian Rovi Mairel Valino Martinez of Cabanatuan City.
PMA SALAKNIB Class Top 10 & other awardees led by valedictorian Cadet First Class Rovi Mairel Martinez of Cabanatuan City (PIA CAR) pic.twitter.com/mjn8xB9TWF— PIA Gitnang Luzon (@PIA_RIII) March 6, 2017
Curiously enough, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has an interesting perspective on the fact that women scored a remarkable milestone in the PMA this year. "[It's] just an aberration," he said.
"Lorenzana 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," reports Leila B. Salaverria in Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The report noted: "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."
Lorenzana went on to say, "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 added, "It is unlikely for women to dominate the military. 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."
By "practical considerations," Lorenzana means the sleeping arrangements of women soldiers and "how they would go to the toilet."
When Lorenzana was asked if this meant female soldiers would be assigned only to office work, he replied, "The problem is if they are married and they get pregnant. Where would you put them?"
For his part, Año did say 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."
Nevertheless, he said the PMA "would maintain the quota for female cadets" and would "adjust the quota in succeeding years if there were too many women." He quipped, "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."