AFP admits being surprised with speed of Defense leadership shuffle
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has admitted being surprised with the speed of the changes within the country’s defense institutions after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. named two former Chiefs of Staff to key posts.
AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Rundown on Monday was asked as to how the military service has reacted to the appointments of former AFP Chiefs of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. and Eduardo Año as Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser, respectively.
In response, Aguilar said that they are surprised, although he assured that the AFP would continue focusing on its mission.
“Actually we were also surprised by the speed it was conducted, but we are used to it already, officers come and go, so we just have to focus our attention to the mission at hand, and that’s all we have to do so that we will not be disrupted,” Aguilar said.
The country’s defense establishments recently grabbed headlines after Marcos placed Gen. Andres Centino back as AFP Chief of Staff, in lieu of Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro.
There were talks that the reappointment of Centino unsettled several officials and caused unrest within the military organization. Destabilization attempts and mass resignations, however, were denied by both the AFP and the Department of National Defense (DND).
Then shortly after Centino’s return, acting Defense chief Jose Faustino Jr. submitted his resignation. Faustino said in a later interview that he was out of the loop in terms of changes within the AFP, adding that he only knew of the reappointments through social media.
This was followed by the transfer of former National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos to the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department.
Galvez and Año — both generals under the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte — replaced Faustino and Carlos.
Aguilar said that while the appointments were quick, there is a need to place the officials in key posts so that possible confusion about the leadership would be avoided.
“I think that’s the reason why the turnover was also quickly implemented, to make sure that there will be no confusion. Say, for example, when the Chief of Staff swore his oath in front of the President, and there’s still a sitting Chief of Staff in Camp Aguinaldo, so it has to be, the turnover must be conducted immediately to avoid confusion, everything would stabilize well,” he said.
“There are already officers and leaders that will make sure that the organization is steered to the right direction,” he added.
As to whether or not there were still rumblings within the organization, especially among AFP officials who would have to wait in line longer with Centino’s reappointment, Aguilar said he cannot comment on that.
“I cannot say what is the opinion or the behavior of individual soldiers or officers. All I can say is that the military organization is intact, and we are solidly supporting the Chief of Staff, General Centino,” he noted.
During the first week of January, there were several rumors that AFP personnel were dissatisfied with a law that sets fixed terms for officials within the uniformed services, as this would leave some officials “bypassed,” because they may have been long retired once the top AFP posts become vacant.
But despite the rumors, AFP said the situation inside Camp Aguinaldo was normal.