Senate panel begins hearing on proposed fixed term for AFP chief, key officers

Senator Richard J. Gordon led the first hearing on Senate Bill No. 1785 that aims to ensure continuity in leadership and excellence in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by prescribing fixed terms for its Chief-of-Staff and other key officers.

In his opening statement, Gordon, Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Defense, emphasized that the country’s military should be strengthened, and that the continuity and stability in the AFP leadership is vital to the defense and security of the nation.

“The practice of ‘revolving door’ in the appointment of the Chief of Staff of the AFP is inimical to public interest because it hinders continuity and stability in the leadership of the AFP and allows for political patronage and accommodation promotion that favors personalities over the security and defense of the nation. Thus, such practice must be prevented,” he said.

Gordon explained that since 1987, there have been 35 AFP Chiefs-of-Staff who all served for averagely a year only. This, he added, is extremely short compared to other countries in Asia such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, where Military Commanders are serving for at least three and a half years.

“The current system appears to limit the President’s choices to officers whose retirement draws near, which gives a perception that the selection is politically driven,” he said.

Gordon also pointed out that key officials of the military should be given sufficient time and security of tenure in order for them to develop, test and implement reforms and long-term plans to strengthen and modernize the AFP.

“These key officers constitute the core-leadership of the AFP or holds positions that requires specialize skill and expertise. However, oftentimes, by the time an officer is qualified to be appointed these positions there are already in their fifties, nearing the compulsory retirement age.

Gordon’s bill is proposing three-year fixed terms for the following key positions: AFP Chief-of-Staff; Vice Chair of the Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOS); Chiefs of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force; Commander of the Joint Forces Command; Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps; Commander of the Special Operations Command; and Commander of the Cyber Security Command.

SB 1785 also proposes to adjust the age of compulsory retirement for military personnel and to ensure implementation of merit-based promotion and attrition system that will assure AFP of continuous pool of qualified and effective leaders. SENATE.GOV.PH