Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman, the country’s first transgender congresswoman, took her oath as a Reservist Officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Roman donned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as she officially joined the Philippine Army Reserve Force.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana administered the donning of ranks and oath-taking ceremony that was also attended by General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, AFP Chief of Staff, and other defense and security officials.
Lieutenant Colonel Roman announced her application to the AFP Reserve Force in February 2017. She also commended and thanked the AFP for allowing individuals from the LGBT community to apply for the military.
“War and disaster do not recognize gender, it affects everybody, and everyone must defend and serve our communities, and our country, that is why I am joining the AFP Reserve Force,” Roman said.
However, Roman’s experience may be more an exception than the rule. For Filipinos in uniform, it is worth highlighting that the expectation for LGBT Filipinos is to act in “acceptable” manners, which is usually limited to acting according to socially-defined masculine versus feminine behaviors. This expectation is all too apparent in the military. For instance, in 2009, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stated that the Philippines has zero tolerance for discrimination within the military ranks. Nonetheless, the AFP Code of Ethics has provisions that can be used to discriminate against lesbian and gay members of the military. An example is Article 5 (Military Professionalism) Section 4.3 (Unethical Acts) of the AFP Code of Ethics, which states:
“Military personnel shall likewise be recommended for discharge/separation for reason of unsuitability due to all acts or omissions which deviate from established and accepted ethical and moral standards of behavior and performance as set forth in the AFP Code of Ethics. The following are examples: Fornication, Adultery, Concubinage, Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Pedophilia.”
Roman is an advocate for the revival of the mandatory Reserved Officers Training Course (ROTC) for grades 11 and 12.
“We in Congress are working to make the ROTC experience a significant, beneficial and meaningful learning experience for those who will join and we will ensure that the value of Patriotism will be inculcated among the youth through this course,” Roman said.
Two other House Representatives, Congressman Edwin Marino Ongchuan of Northern Samar and Congresswoman Divina Grace Yu of Zamboanga Del Sur’s 1st District also took their oath as Lieutenant Colonel in the Army’s Reserve Force.