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Senate panel okays fixed 3-year term for AFP Chief of Staff

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The Senate committee on national defense and security approved on Thursday two Senate bills pushing for a fixed three-year term for the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

”First, we have resolved there will be a fixed term for the CSAFP, or fixed tenure. Second, the fixed term will be three years,” Senator Panfilo Lacson told the media after the hearing also attended by another former military officer, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Lacson said the fixed tenure for the AFP head would depoliticize the military and eliminate “revolving door policy” where an eligible official would still be appointed even if he has only three to five months left before his retirement at age 56.

”What is happening was that a president can appoint as many as 10 chiefs of staff and a CSAFP who serves for only 3-6 months can do nothing but to plan only because he has no more time for implementation. This will, once institutionalized because of the enactment of this bill into a law, probably help better professionalize the AFP,” Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, said.

Incumbent AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. was appointed in March this year and is expected to retire in December. He replaced Gen. Ricardo David who served for only eight months.

Representatives from the Department of National Defense, Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Air Force also attended the hearing and expressed no strong opposition to proposed Senate Bill Nos. 20 by Trillanes and 2285 by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The committee also resolved that the major service commanders who served for only one year will be eligible as AFP chief of staff.

Lacson said the committee also agreed to give the commanders of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force a fixed term of two years.

”(And then) they will only be disqualified if they reach the mandatory age of 56 before they finish their fixed term of office of two years. And then of course the loss of confidence as a reason for removing the CSAFP, loss of confidence from the commander-in-chief,” Lacson explained.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill (House Bill 6) last February. The House bill also gives the President the power to defer the compulsory retirement period of AFP chief of staff if he maintains the confidence of the President.

Lacson said he will submit the committee report for plenary debate “but the committee on national defense and security maintains this position as I enumerated to you.”

By Jelly F. Musico - PNA





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