Faustino backs fixed term for AFP chief, but says system works
MANILA, Philippines — Newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino, who will serve for a little over three months, agreed that there should be a fixed term for chief of staff.
“I agree there should be a fixed term for chief of staff…I think there’s a move right now to have a fixed term for chief of staff and it has something to do with retirement age,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Wednesday night.
Bills seeking changes to the military retirement age and streamlining of the organizational structure of the AFP are currently pending in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Faustino is the 10th AFP chief to be appointed under President Rodrigo Duterte, where AFP chiefs served an average of six months. He took the reins of the AFP last July 31 and is set to retire on November 12 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Faustino was named as acting Army chief in February, but was relieved in May after Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he was unqualified due to a law which required chief of services to have at least one year remaining in service on the day of his assumption.
After his relief, Faustino was named Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Peace and Development, a newly created position, to supervise programs related to the transition process under a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
While he agreed that there should be a fixed term for the chief of staff position, Faustino said, “We have to respect the prerogative of the commander in chief when it comes to designating the chief of staff.”
He argued that while the retirement age of 56 limits tenure, the AFP has “systems in place” despite the quick turnover of leadership.
“Even if the turnover is quick, with the institutionalized systems already established,” Faustino said.
“Our mission is based on the institution, not the person,” he said.
“If you look at the performance of our mission and accomplishments with all those short term AFP chiefs whom I succeeded, the results are good, and I’m saying there’s a system in place,” he said in Filipino.
The military’s revolving door policy has long been a dilemma in the armed forces and not just under Duterte. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has been consistently against the short-term appointments and spoke about it in public several times.
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