Top Duterte generals back in key roles under Marcos | Inquirer News

Top Duterte generals back in key roles under Marcos

Clarita Carlos and Eduardo Año

OUT AND IN | Clarita Carlos (left photo), a retired political science professor from the University of the Philippines, leaves her post as national security adviser to President Marcos after six months. She was promptly replaced by Eduardo Año, a former military chief and interior secretary, on Saturday. (SENATE PRIB/PCO PHOTOS)

MANILA, Philippines — Top generals who served the previous administration are back in the harness under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who swore in former Interior Secretary Eduardo Año as his new national security adviser (NSA), replacing academic Clarita Carlos on Saturday.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Carlos had decided to continue “her pursuit of scholastic endeavors” and rejoined the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives.


Shortly after announcing Año as the new NSA, the PCO released a statement attributed to Carlos.

“I have realized that it is no longer politic to continue as NSA to the President and so, I have decided to migrate to another agency where my expertise on foreign, defense, and security policy will be of use and I shall continue to help build a Better Philippines,” said the retired University of the Philippines (UP) political science professor.


With Año back in government, the president has changed his defense and military chiefs, and NSA — the key officials of the country’s defense and security establishment — all within a week.


Marcos reappointed Gen. Andres Centino as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, replacing Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, his first AFP chief.

Centino, 55, was appointed AFP chief by former President Rodrigo Duterte on Nov. 12, 2021, and held the post until Aug. 8, 2022, when he was removed for undisclosed reasons by Mr. Marcos.

On Jan. 9, the president named Carlito Galvez Jr., a former chief of staff like Año, as the new defense secretary after Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., the defense officer in charge, resigned.

Faustino later said that he wasn’t informed about Centino’s reappointment and Bacarro’s retirement.

Carlos herself also said in a television interview that she was “confused” and wasn’t notified prior to Centino’s return as AFP chief.

Galvez, 60, served as Duterte’s military chief from April to December 2018 and was appointed as presidential adviser on the peace process after his retirement.


He later headed the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and led the national vaccination program until the Marcos administration took over.

Año, 61, was named undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government following his retirement in 2017.

Jonas Burgos case

He took over as secretary in November 2018 until Duterte’s term ended in June last year.

Año was head of Army intelligence and was one of the respondents named responsible for the abduction and disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos in April 2007. The Department of Justice dismissed the charges filed against him by the Burgos family for lack of probable cause.

Buzz at Aguinaldo

As former Army generals, Año, Galvez, and Centino could focus on ending the 53-year-old communist insurgency that all previous administrations promised but failed to accomplish, according to security analyst Chester Cabalza.

Col. Medel Aguilar, the AFP spokesperson, said the military was “proud and happy to see a former AFP chief of staff advising the President on matters of national security.”

Talk about Carlos’ eventual exit has been going around Camp Aguinaldo, where the AFP and the Department of National Defense (DND) headquarters are located, since Marcos announced that she was his choice for NSA on June 8, 2022, as she was not supported by both active and retired servicemen.

The NSA post is typically held by former military officers or politicians with a defense background. Carlos was the first woman and the third civilian to hold the position after Norberto Gonzales and former UP president Emanuel Soriano, during the administrations of former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Corazon Aquino, respectively.

Cabalza said Carlos’ fate was already “expected and destined to happen.”

“Her platform on human security as national security adviser did not scale up to the expectations of Malacañang, given the intensified power play of superpowers in our backyard,” said Cabalza, founding president of the International Development and Security Cooperation, a Manila-based security think tank.

“It was all rhetoric and was not responsive to security anxieties on the ground in the West Philippine Sea,” he added in an interview with the Inquirer.

“Her lack of experience on the ground and dependence on theoretical frameworks made it laughable for her critics as she operated as if she teaches inside the classroom,” Cabalza said.

WPS issue

As NSA, Carlos also headed the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, which monitors incursions into Philippine waters, mostly by Chinese fishermen, coast guard, and maritime militia forces.

Cabalza said his military sources, whom he did not identify, told him that Carlos had “cozy closeness with Beijing” and also “doubted her value judgment for the best interest of the country.”

He said Año’s appointment as NSA, would “intensify” the efforts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) in ending the insurgency.

“The mere fact that Generals Año, Galvez, and Centino are Army generals, the trinity leaders from AFP, DND, and NSC (National Security Council) will join forces to end our insurgency problem,” Cabalza said.

As NSA, Año will serve as the vice chair of the controversial NTF-Elcac, whose former officials had Red-tagged activists and government critics. Carlos disapproved of the practice, calling it “unproductive” in pursuing long-lasting peace.

Año will also be the vice chair of the Anti-Terrorism Council, which has the authority to classify groups or individuals as terrorists under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Chance to reshape policy

According to Cabalza, the change in the heads of the AFP, DND, and NSC would help Mr. Marcos “redraw his defense and security policies to help him craft a sound foreign policy amid a multipolar world.”

The return of the NSA post to a retired AFP chief would be a morale booster to the military, and temporarily quell the ramblings in Camp Aguinaldo caused by the unprecedented movements, he added.

At the House of Representatives, Deputy Minority Leader France Castro said the “supposed game of the generals … seems to be a widespread, ongoing purge of appointees linked to former Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez.”

“In the process, those placed were former generals whose loyalties and policies may still lie with the ex-President and his family and not with President Marcos,” she said.

Castro said Año’s appointment was the “most troubling as he is known as a militarist red-tagger.”



Ex-DILG chief Eduardo Año replaces Clarita Carlos as Nat’l Security Adviser

New defense chief Galvez asks Faustino aides to stay

Squabbling in the ranks just ‘birthing pains,’ says AFP chief Centino

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