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End to ‘revolving door’ policy on top AFP post sought

December 6, 2022 Jester P. Manalastas 389 views

A measure that seeks changes in the law providing for a fixed three-year tour of duty for the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and several other high-ranking key officers has been filed in the House of Representatives.

Speaker Martin G. Romualdez and other House members principally authored House Bill 6482 or “An Act further strengthening professionalism and promoting the continuity of policies and modernization initiatives in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

The measure seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 11709, wich was signed on April 13 this year by then President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. The main purpose of the law is to put an end to the so-called “revolving door” policy in the appointment of the AFP chief.

With this new proposal, Romualdez said there were some important issues raised by personnel of the military about the law.

“I understand them and they are all valid. I have discussed these with our House leaders and the committee on national defense and security and the bill is our way of addressing the concerns of our officers and enlisted personnel in the AFP,” Romualdez said.

The co-authors of the amendatory measure are Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, who chairs the defense committee; Negros Occidental Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, a vice chairperson of the committee; and Representatives Divina Grace Yu of Zamboanga del Sur, and Patrol Party-list Rep. Jorge Bustos.

The proposed law would limit the fixed tour of duty of three consecutive years, unless sooner terminated by the President, to just four officers: chief of staff, commanding general of the Army, commanding general of the Air Force, and flag-officer-in-command of the Navy.

It would exclude from the coverage of such the three-year tenure the vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, unified command commanders, and inspector general. However, it would allow “lateral movement” for these officers.

The bill provides that except for the position of chief of staff, no officer shall be designated to key positions or promoted to the rank of brigadier general/commodore or higher if he has less than six months of active service remaining prior to compulsory retirement.

It also fixes the compulsory retirement age for certain high-ranking officers: 57 years for those with the rank of brigadier general/commodore, 58 for those with the rank of major general/rear admiral and 59 for those occupying the rank of lieutenant general/vice admiral.

The measure would allow the secretary of national defense, in consultation with the AFP, to determine the number of officers in each grade or rank, and in each major, technical or administrative service.

RA No. 11709 sets the percentage for the number of officers in each rank.

“In the enhancement of the law, the policies of professionalization of the organization, allowing the leadership a longer period to implement reforms and obviating the revolving door policy regarding promotions will continuously be pursued,” they said.

They added that Congress is always cognizant of the constitutional role of the AFP as the “protector of the people and the state” and the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.