ASPIRING ARMY RESERVIST. Actor Robin Padilla poses for a photo with participants of the Sulu Youth Empowerment for Preventing-Countering Violent Extremism. Padilla expressed his intent to join the Philippine Army as a reservist. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

MANILA -- Actor Robin Padilla has announced his plans to join the military as reservist, an official of the Philippine Army said on Sunday.

Army Spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala welcomed Padilla's intent to join the Army Reserve Component, as the official "highly" encouraged everyone to join the force.

"We welcome his desire to join the Army Reserve Component and contribute more to the Army's thrusts of nation-building. All citizens, whether celebrity or ordinary, are highly encouraged to join us in serving the people and securing the land," Zagala said.

Padilla follows the footsteps of fellow actor, PA reservist probationary 2nd Lt. Matteo Guidicelli, who recently graduated from the Scout Ranger Orientation Course.

Zagala said Padilla made known his desire to volunteer as it is an honor to serve the country.

Padilla was a speaker at the Sulu Youth Empowerment for Preventing-Countering Violent Extremism over the weekend. The actor, a Muslim, said before forum participants that Islam is a religion of peace.

“Ang Islam na nakilala ko ay mapayapang religion (The Islam I know is a religion of peace),” Padilla said, recalling the values he learned after converting to Islam and the change it brought him from his old, rebellious life.

“Ito po ang religion na nagturo sa akin na maging makatao, makadiyos at kung bakit mahal ko ang Pilipinas (This is the religion that taught me to humane, to be godly, and to love my country, the Philippines)," he added.

Padilla also expressed his condolences to the kin of the victims of the deadly bomb attack last June 28 which caused the death of three soldiers, two civilians and two bombers, and the wounding of 12 other soldiers in Sulu.

In the same event, PA Imam Chaplain Capt. Abdulhaq Mohammad said extremism is beyond the vocabulary of Islam.

“Ang itinuturo sa Islam ay (Islam's teachings is) mercy (is) not just for the Muslims but for all mankind and that includes non-Muslims,” Mohammad said.

Among the more than 800 youth participants is 15-year-old Mariam Ahmad who shared that the message brought to them was an inspiration to the Muslim community.

"We thank Mr. Robin Padilla for his time and effort to advocate peace and unity to the people especially those who are affected by the threat of violent extremists," Zagala said. (PNA)