Congress ratifies bicam report on bill amending AFP fixed-term law
MANILA, Philippines — Congress has ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the bill that seeks to amend the law on the fixed terms in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The committee, composed of representatives from the Senate and the House, convened on Tuesday to come up with a version that reconciles differences between Senate Bill No. 1849 and House Bill No, 6517.
Both bills are pushing for changes in the Act Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization Initiatives in the AFP (Republic Act No. 11709).
The Senate and House separately ratified the bicameral conference committee report on Wednesday. The bill is now only awaiting the signature of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, chair of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, said they had agreed to use the Senate bill as a working draft.
“After two days of floor debates in the Senate and more than four hours of grueling bicameral conference committee deliberations, we managed to come up with the best version of the amendments to RA 11709 to ensure that our AFP will be a dynamic and fully responsive organization, consistent with its constitutional mandate of being the protector of the people and the State, and securing the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory,” Estrada said.
He outlined the provisions of the bill agreed upon by contingents of the Senate and the House:
• The AFP chief of staff will have a maximum tour of duty of three years unless sooner terminated by the president.
• The chiefs of the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Navy and the superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy will have a maximum tour of duty of two years unless sooner terminated by the president.
• All AFP commissioned officers and enlisted personnel will have a compulsory retirement age of 57 years old.
• There will be an increased maximum tenure-in-grade for those with the rank of brigadier general or commodore or higher from three to five years.
• There will be an increased maximum tenure-in-grade for those with the rank of colonel and captain from eight to 10 years.
• There will be an officer grade distribution based on the AFP table of organization with amendments to adjust the percentage for general or flag officers to 1.25% and for first lieutenant or lieutenant junior grade and second lieutenant and ensign to 45.75% — in line with the AFP modernization program.
“A new Section 6 was introduced to clarify the application of the proposed legislation. Specifically, the bill should also apply to the officers and enlisted personnel — appointed and/or promoted — under RA 11709,” Estrada said.
Last March 6, the Senate version of the bill hurdled its final reading. Estrada said the proposed tweaks to the law aim to put an end to the “grumblings” in the military.
The House, meanwhile, gave its final nod on its counterpart bill in December last year.
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