Who will be picked as the next Navy chief?
FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — Five generals are on the shortlist of possible replacements as the next Flag-Officer-in-Command (FOIC) of the Philippine Navy, following the immediate relief of Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado over the controversial frigate acquisition project.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday the five names they have submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for consideration include:
- Rear Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr., commander of the Philippine Fleet
- Rear Admiral Danilo Rodelas, commander of the Naval Education and Training Command
- Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao
- Rear Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi, chief of Naval staff
- Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad, acting FOIC and concurrent deputy chief of staff for reserve and retirees
In a press briefing on the sidelines of the turnover ceremony at the Special Operations Command, Lorenzana said the names were submitted on Dec. 31.
Mercado was sacked from his position in December, in a sudden ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo which left most of the members of the military shocked.
The former FOIC, who remains in floating status, was set to retire in March, and Lorenzana said Mercado has not expressed his intention to resign or retire early.
“According to some of the former FOIC that talked to him is that he will just be allowed to retire in March. Sabi ko (I said) he can retire then, hindi naman siya pinipilit mag retire ng maaga eh (he’s not being forced to retire early),” the defense chief said.
Lorenzana said he also requested a meeting with former Navy chiefs to explain the sudden decision to relieve Mercado, without giving him a proper turnover ceremony.
“I have talked with the former FOICs. I requested them a meeting and explained to them the root cause why Admiral Mercado was relieved. They expressed disappointment with the process. Ang sabi nila (They said), I violated the long-honored tradition of retiring, parade and everything. Sabi ko (I said) because the situation is so fluid we can no longer have formal turnover. I explained to them why and they understood,” he said.
Lorenzana had earlier told the media that he lost his trust and confidence in Mercado for insisting on a certain company for the combat management system for the frigate acquisition project, which had caused delays. The Philippine government signed a P16 billion contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries in 2016. /je
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