No extension eyed for AFP chief – Lorenzana
MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief Gen. Noel Clement is not likely to get an extension as the top military boss when his term ends in early January, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.
Clement, who took over the command of the entire military leadership on September 26, would have only served less than four months.
“The President has decided not to extend anymore absent the compelling reason to do so,” Lorenzana told reporters.
Clement will reach the compulsory retirement age of 56 on January 5. The date of the change of command ceremony has yet to be announced.
Lorenzana cited the case of then AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año, whose term was “extended” because of the Marawi siege in 2017, which was seen as the biggest security crisis under the Duterte administration.
“If you recall, Gen. Eduardo Año was extended for several months due to the Marawi siege,” he said.
Duterte announced in May 2017 that Año would take the position of interior secretary by June 2017, or four months earlier from his original retirement date.
However, because of the start of Marawi siege and the subsequent declaration of martial law in Mindanao in May 2017, Año did not take over the Cabinet position by June. He served as AFP chief until October of the same year, as the siege also ended around the time of his mandatory retirement date.
But Duterte extended Año’s successor. Then Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero took up the position as AFP chief in late October 2017 even if he was scheduled for retirement in December of the same year. But he retired from service in April 2018, after Duterte extended his term for four months.
This would make Clement the AFP chief with the shortest term under Duterte so far. Since Duterte became President in 2016, the AFP leadership has changed command for six times.
The frequent leadership changes did not go unnoticed by foreign military officials.
At an Army leadership forum last week, Lorenzana shared an observation of a ranking US military officer during one of his visits to Hawaii.
“The former commander of PACOM (Pacific Command) when we met, he said, ‘What’s happening, Secretary? I’ve been in my job three years and I already met five chiefs of staff’,” he said.
“I said, ‘Don’t worry Admiral, you will meet more before you retire’,” he said in jest.
The defense chief said he has a proposed legislation that would amend the retirement law.
“Hindi na maganda eh. So we are trying to correct this,” he said.
Edited by KGA
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