PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said he decided to reappoint General Andres C. Centino as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to address the low morale within its ranks.
Marcos confirmed he “corrected” his decision of replacing Centino with Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as the chief of staff last August after it drew criticism from members of AFP.
Centino is a four-star general—the highest rank in the AFP, while Bacarro had three stars.
“So there were some comments that were made: What will happen if there will be [tenure] extension [from those in the top rank], what will happen to those in the lower ranks who will now be hopeless [for a promotion],” Marcos said in mixed Filipino and English in an interview with reporters en route to Davos, Switzerland for the 2023 World Economic Forum.
“That is not right. They [AFP members] will have low morale…So we asked the military and I said let’s fix it and make it by seniority. And that’s what we’ve done,” he added.
Following the replacement of Bacarro last week, reports of protest resignations from military and defense officials as well as a government destabilization plot circulated.
Authorities later denied such reports.
Aside from the leadership of AFP, Marcos also implemented changes in the Department of Defense (DND) Secretary and the post of National Security Adviser.
He appointed Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, Reconciliation and Unity (OPARU) Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. as his new DND secretary and Eduardo Año as his new National Security Adviser (NSA).
Reports quoted the outgoing NSA, Prof. Clarita Carlos, as saying she left her post to focus on academic endeavors.
Marcos said he picked Galvez to lead DND due to his experience in peace and security.
“He [Galvez] is very experienced and in fact as soon as he took his oath, he was already… he already knew what to do. He had a command conference. So I think he’ll slide into that position really easily,” Marcos said.
With Galvez now taking over the helm of DND, the President said he is now looking for a new OPARU Secretary.
As for Año, he said he chose the former Interior Secretary to join his Cabinet for his “long experience in intelligence.”
“Before he became Chief of Staff, before he became group commander, he was [with] ISAFP [Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines]. So he is used to it and he’s well-known, and he knows all of the operatives in the intelligence community,” Marcos said.