Galvez seeks amendments to AFP promotion law
MANILA, Philippines — A law aiming to bring stability to the Armed Forces of the Philippines by putting an end to the practice of short-term appointments for top generals has instead caused a disturbance among junior military officers, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Tuesday.
Galvez said the adverse effects of Republic Act (RA) No. 11709, which gives the AFP chief of staff and commanders of the Army, Air Force, and Navy fixed three-year terms, would be evident in the promotion of about 135 AFP officers, mostly those belonging to Classes 1990 to 1994 of the Philippine Military Academy.
The defense chief acknowledged before the Senate national defense committee reports of “grumblings” in the 143,000-strong force, in the aftermath of an abrupt leadership change with the reappointment of Gen. Andres Centino as AFP chief on Jan. 6.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s reappointment of Centino, who turns 56—the mandatory retirement age for soldiers—next month, quickly ended the military career of his successor Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro.
A Medal of Valor awardee, Bacarro was at the AFP’s helm for only five months. He was supposed to be the first beneficiary of RA 11709.
Interim Defense Secretary Jose Faustino Jr. quit his post following Centino’s return, saying he was left in the dark about the move.
Galvez said the military unrest was an “unintended consequence” of the law that then President Rodrigo Duterte signed in April last year, supposedly to end the “revolving-door” practice of designating AFP chiefs who serve for only a few months.
“We’re saying that the grumblings [are] the unintended consequences of the retirement law [that have already] gravely affected the morale [of the troops],” he told Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, committee chair.
“This involves the lives of our officers. They have worked hard for 30 years, but they will be ‘in default’ just because of one delayed promotion and designation,” the defense chief added.
He said junior military officers, sensing that the law would discriminate against them, are appealing for a “sense of fairness and meritocracy” in their promotion and designation.
According to Galvez, the President had already signed the appointment papers of several military officers before he flew to Switzerland on Sunday to attend the World Economic Forum.
He also raised to the committee the suggestion of the Department of National Defense (DND) that only the AFP chief of staff should be allowed to have a fixed three-year term while other key posts in the military should be occupied for two years.
The department also proposed that no officer be promoted to one-star rank if retirement is due in less than six months.