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Wanted: Soldiers

A poster of a soldier in camouflage fatigue peering at a scope of a sniper rifle could be seen hanging at the recruitment tent of the Philippine Marines in Rizal Park on Monday.

At its center were the words: “Join the Marines: Mission-Tailored Ready Force and Adaptive Force of the Choice.”

Like any recruitment poster, it told most qualifications for interested applicants: must be a natural Filipino born citizen, who must be between 18 to 23 years old with good moral character; unmarried and with no child to support; holder of at least 72 units in College or graduate of Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA); height of at least 5’4” for males; and must not have any pending civil or criminal case.

Despite the stringent requirements, Master Sergeant Victor Sucaldito of the Marine Recruitment department said many still usually aspire to enlist in the marines for its P18,582 starting pay.

But applicants came few and far between.

Josel Mallorca, a 23-year-old hopeful from Iloilo, was the 10th to apply. “If you are determined to serve the country, then you should be prepared to offer your life for it,” said Mallorca who draws inspiration from two brothers in the military.

Even without the Marawi conflict, Sucaldito said only a few of their total recruits each year come from jobs fairs.

Most would come from their usual recruitment missions in the provinces like Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, and Bicol.

And among applicants, only 10 to 20 percent of the applicants from job fairs complete the necessary training and screening since they are unprepared for it.

“They usually fail when it comes to physical and military training,” Sucaldito said.

He said their goal is to recruit 720 trainees this year, a number that could rise because of the ongoing war in Marawi. (SAMUEL MEDENILLA)