Lorenzana says acting Army chief stays because it’s Duterte prerogative
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday (March 19) said acting Army chief Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. will stay in his post despite questions raised by Sen. Panfilo Lacson if he was qualified because he was retiring in November.
“The President has already decided that he stays,” Lorenzana told reporters. “It is the prerogative of the President who he wants to be commanding general of the Philippine Army,” he said.
At a session of the Commission on Appointments last March 10, Lacson said Faustino was not qualified to sit as Army chief, even in an acting capacity, because he was retiring in less than a year.
“Lieutenant General Faustino is retiring in November 2021,” Lacson told armed forces chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana at the CA session.
“Less than a year, correct?” Lacson said. “So he cannot be designated even in an acting capacity as commanding general of the Philippine Army,” he added.
The senator cited the Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8186, which states that that except for the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, no officer should be appointed to key positions if the appointee has less than one year of active service before mandatory retirement.
Lacson said Faustino’s appointment in an acting capacity was still a designation.
“And the law is very clear. The law doesn’t mention if full capacity or acting capacity,” Lacson said.
Sobejana told Lacson that he named Faustino as Army chief based on a memorandum signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Byt Lacson said that the law bears more weight than a memorandum issued by the President through his executive secretary.
“And between the memorandum issued by the executive secretary and the law, what should take precedence?” he asked the AFP chief.
“The law,” Sobejana answered.
The confirmation of Sobejana’s promotion to general, and those of other military officials, had been deferred after the questions raised by Lacson.
In February, Faustino was named by Duterte as the commanding general of the Philippine Army. Before his appointment, Faustino was commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, which is based in Davao City, Duterte’s hometown.
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