House bill filed setting 3-year fixed term for AFP chief of staff
A BILL proposing a fixed three-year term for the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been revived in the House of Representatives.
A similar measure was vetoed in 2012 by President Benigno Aquino III, but this time the proponent, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, said he hoped President Duterte would be in favor of the measure.
“The quick turnover of AFP chiefs of staff has become counterproductive—even somewhat disruptive,” said Pimentel, a member of the committee on national defense and security.
“Over the last 30 years, the AFP has had 28 chiefs of staff who each served an average of 12 months. In the case of our last 10 chiefs of staff, each actually served an average of only seven months,” he said in a statement.
In contrast, the AFP chief of staff’s counterpart in the United States—the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—enjoys a fixed term of two years, Pimentel said.
“If we are to reinforce the military as our protector and defender of our national territory, we should give its chief operating officer a stable stint to carry out programs and projects with some degree of constancy,” he said.
House Bill No. 3402 proposes a three-year term for the chief of staff, who may finish his term even upon reaching the military retirement age of 56 by having the statutory forced retirement deferred.
The bill, however, affirms the President’s absolute power, as Commander in Chief of all the armed forces, to remove the chief of staff “at will”—or at any time before the end of 36 months.
Since the 1986 People Power revolt, according to Pimentel, the AFP has had only two chiefs of staff—Generals Renato de Villa and Lisandro Abadia—who served the maximum three years allowed by the Constitution.
The chief of staff who had the shortest stint was Gen. Nestor Ochoa, who held the post in acting capacity for just 10 days, he said.
In October 2011, the 15th Congress ratified the bill providing a fixed term for chiefs of staff. It was seen as a solution to quick leadership turnovers in the military.
In explaining his veto of the earlier bill, Aquino said a provision in the bill approved by the 15th Congress would violate Article 16, Section 5, of the Constitution.
That section provides that “laws on retirement of military officers shall not allow extension of their service” except during times of war or national emergencies declared by Congress.
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