Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Friday moved calm down reported rumblings in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reportedly sparked by “anxiety” of some military personnel on the possible effects of a newly-enacted law seeking to professionalize the ranks.
Under the controversial Republic Act 11709 or the Act seeking to Professionalize the AFP, the AFP chief-of-staff, vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, heads of the major services [Army, Navy and Air Force], unified command commanders and inspector general will have a three-year term of office “unless sooner terminated by the President,” who may also extend the AFP chief-of-staff’s duty in the event of war or national emergencies.
Seeking to explain the root cause of the reported rumblings, Galvez said in news statement, “The rumblings were actually more of a ‘tampo’ (hurt feelings) by the troops over the law more than anything else.”
In a hearing before the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation last Tuesday, Galvez clarified to senators that the DND (Department of National Defense) is “listening to the concerns of our men and women in the AFP, who are understandably anxious over the perceived uncertainty in their careers under the new law.”
In the same hearing, the DND also presented proposed amendments to RA 11709.
These include giving the AFP chief a maximum term of three years, while service commanders in the Army, Navy, and Air Force will have two years, and the Philippine Military Academy superintendent having a four-year tenure.
Meanwhile, the AFP vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, unified command commanders, and inspector general can be appointed to a higher post if they still have a year left in active service.
Also included are proposals that no military official can be promoted to brigadier general or commodore if they have less than six months left in the service.
“The DND’s proposed amendments to RA 11709 aim to further enhance the professionalism and efficiency of the AFP. The issues surrounding the law are being threshed out collaboratively between the DND and the AFP,” Galvez explained.
He added the DND shall continue to pursue policies that will further enhance the welfare, morale, professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the AFP.
“Despite concerns over RA 11709, the AFP remains faithful to our Constitution, people, and the flag, and our officers and men are continuing to fulfill their mandate of protecting our nation,” Galvez assured.
He likewise emphasized the importance of employee morale and welfare in the DND and AFP to better serve the Filipino people, and assured AFP enlisted personnel that their careers are foremost among the concerns of the organization.
“Huwag na kayong mangamba, inirekomenda ng DND at AFP na ang promotion system at retirement ng mga enlisted personnel ay hindi na sasailalim sa RA 11709. Yung inyong human resource development systems/programs will be directly under the different major service commanders. Paglabas ng batas ay excluded na kayo. Ang aming prayer ay ang ‘transition’ sa 11709 ay mapaganda at mapabilis ang pag-manage ng ating Armed Forces. Sana lumabas na ang amendments para hindi maabala ang inyong mga career,” he said.