Ex-senator Lacson believes AFP can keep professionalism, flag loyalty
MANILA, Philippines — Despite rumors of discord within the military, former senator Panfilo Lacson believes the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can maintain its professionalism and be loyal to the flag, even with its officials having personal preferences.
Lacson — a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1971 — said that the rumors of resignation among AFP and Department of National Defense (DND) officials might have been triggered by a previous statement from Defense Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr.
According to Lacson, Faustino, officer-in-charge of DND, said he would resign if Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro is replaced as AFP chief.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently placed Gen. Andres Centino back as AFP Chief of Staff. This move, along with a new system of ranking AFP officials, has been rumored as the reason for the unrest within the military.
“There is information, though, that OIC and Senior DND Undersecretary Faustino mentioned to some close associates as early as last month that he will resign if Lt. Gen. Bacarro will be replaced. That could have probably triggered the rumored ‘mass resignation’ in the DND,” Lacson said.
“That being said, the AFP is generally composed of professional officers and men whose loyalty to the flag and the Constitution is above and beyond their individual preferences,” he added.
In the past few days, persistent rumblings among AFP personnel over the weekend that they are unhappy with a law that establishes fixed terms for officials within the uniformed services because it could result in some top AFP officials being “bypassed” since they’ll be retired by then.
But despite the rumors, AFP said the situation inside Camp Aguinaldo, their headquarters, remains normal. They also belied allegations that a mass resignation within the uniformed service occurred.
READ: Camp Aguinaldo situation ‘normal,’ no mass resignation in AFP, says spox
Lacson thinks the issue should be put to rest already, as the PNP clarified that the heightened alert status is not due to the supposed unrest but the Feast of the Black Nazarene, which attracts huge crowds.
Furthermore, Lacson clarified that Faustino, Centino, Bacarro, and several other DND undersecretaries come from the same PMA Class of 1988.
“First, the Philippine National Police already clarified last weekend the reason for its supposed heightened alert status — it was for another purpose, not related to any destabilization and the rumored ‘mass resignation’ of DND officials, which, as it turned out, is just that — rumor,” he said.
“[DND] OIC Jose Faustino Jr., newly designated AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino, and newly retired Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, along with two or three DND undersecretaries, all belong to PMA Class 1988. Even among PMA batchmates, sometimes there are dynamics due to personal associations and loyalties that cannot be avoided,” he added.
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