Manila : The Armed Forces of the Philippines has downgraded its height requirements for prospective soldiers, a statement has said.
Prior to these developments, male soldiers were required to be 1.63 metres (5ft 4ins) tall while female soldiers were required to be 1.58 metres (5ft 2ins) tall.
According to the army statement, both men and woman who are 1.35 metres (5ft) tall can join the armed forces.
Defence Secretary Norberto Gonzales was responsible for changing the military's old height requirement for accepting soldiers, the statement added.
"Aspiring soldiers who are not so lucky with their height will now have a greater chance of serving the country through the armed forces," the statement said.
The statement added: "The Armed Forces will accommodate small but equally competent applicants."
However, the old requirements that applicants must have two years of college education and must be at least 22, have not changed, the statement said.
Sources told Gulf News that the new order was issued due to the shortage of government soldiers in operations to combat members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) that operate nationwide and separatist groups in the southern Philippines.
The Philippine government has been engaged in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since (MILF) 1997, and with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) since 1992.