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Hello, goodbye, General Guerrero

Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

For Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the trouble with hello is goodbye.

Guerrero got the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday although he has only 11 days to serve as the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff.

Guerrero is set to retire on Dec. 17 when he turns 56 years old, the compulsory age of retirement for people in the uniformed services.

But he has held the post since Oct. 26 when he replaced then AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año.

“[The President] told me just do your job,” he said after the CA national defense committee confirmed his appointment.

Guerrero said he would just implement in the remaining days of his term the activities and campaign plan already set by the AFP.

“As I’ve said, our organization is not personality-oriented and we have programs, campaign plans that will run whoever is [the AFP chief of staff],” he told reporters.

It was Sen. Panfilo Lacson who moved for the committee to recommend Guerrero’s appointment to the CA plenary. His motion was supported by Sen. Gregorio Honasan II.

Before the committee acted on the motion, San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora lamented that the law allowed the AFP chief of staff to be promoted only if he had less than one year of active service remaining before retirement.

Prime of life

Zamora’s concern, though, was that the law “readily and cavalierly” retires an AFP chief of staff when he turns 56, which for Zamora is the prime of life.

“Fifty-six is not old age where you can retire. He is not an old man,” Zamora said, as he called on lawmakers to reexamine the current policy.

He said some congressmen were coming up with a bill reexamining the retirement policy for the AFP chief of staff.

To reporters, Guerrero said his office submitted a list of priority legislation for Congress that included adjustments in the retirement age and terms of major service commanders and the AFP chief of staff.

60 in other countries

He said that in other countries, generals normally retire at age 60 and that the military organization will be able to take advantage of the “experience, wisdom and expertise” of senior officials if they retire later than 56.

“I’m ready to retire. That’s not a problem for me. Whether I’m extended or not. What’s important for me is to render honorable service to the people,” Guerrero said.

The CA plenary also confirmed the ad interim appointments of 41 AFP general/flag and senior officers. Among them were Brig. Gen. Vicente Bacarro and former Manila Rep. Harry Angping, who was promoted to the rank of captain of the Philippine Navy (reserve).

Also confirmed were four new ambassadors—Jocelyn Singson Batoon-Garcia (Norway with concurrent jurisdiction over Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Sweden), Denis Yap Lepatan (Switzerland with concurrent jurisdiction over Leichtenstein), Eduardo Jose Atienza de Vega (Belgium, Luxembourg, Commission of the European Communities and the Council of the European Union) and Demetrio Remedios Tuason (Mexico, with concurrent jurisdiction over Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic and Cuba).

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