President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law granting a three-year fixed term for key officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including the chief of staff.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11709 — or the Act Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization Initiatives in the Armed Forces of the Philippines by Prescribing Fixed Terms for Key Officers thereof, Increasing the Mandatory Retirement Age of Generals/flag Officers, Providing for a More Effective Attrition System, and Providing Funds therefor — on April 13 but it was only announced by Malacañang on Monday, May 16.
Under the said law, military officials who will get a fixed three-year term aside from the chief of staff are:
- vice chief of staff
- deputy chief of staff
- commanding general of the Philippine Army
- commanding general of the Philippine Air Force
- flag officer in command of the Philippine Navy
- unified command commanders; and
- inspector general
The tour of duty of the aforementioned officers will commence on the date the appointment is signed and will occupy the post for three consecutive years unless terminated by the President, provided that those mentioned will not be eligible for any other position in the Armed Forces unless promoted to the position of chief of staff.
In addition, the fixed tour of duty of the chief of staff may be extended by the President "in times of war or other national emergency declared by Congress."
Further, the law states that such fixed term will achieve the following:
- enhance professionalization in the organization by strengthening the merit system
- allow the new leadership a longer period to implement reforms, and institutionalize sound policies that will redound to the improvement of the AFP
- promote the most qualified officers to higher ranks and
- obviate revolving door accommodation promotions to successfully create a new culture of excellence in leadership and accountability in the AFP
Republic Act 11709 also provides that a general/flag officer of proven competence and academic excellence will be appointed as superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and will be exempt from the application of the maximum tenure-in-grade defined under the law.
The PMA superintendent will also have the rank of lieutenant general/vice admiral and be given a tour of duty of four years, unless terminated by higher authority and provided, that except for the position of chief of staff, the PMA superintendent will not be eligible for any other position in the AFP and shall be compulsorily retired after completion of the fixed tour of duty or upon relief from office.
The law also said no general/flag officer who is more than 58 years of age shall be appointed as PMA superintendent.
Officers and enlisted personnel, on the other other hand, will still be retired one rank higher from the last rank.
The following officers of the AFP, for their part, will be deemed compulsorily retired under the following circumstances:
- those in the grades of second lieutenant/ensign (0-1) to colonel/captain (0-6), upon reaching the age of 56 or accumulation of 30 years of satisfactory active duty, whichever is later;
- those in the grades of brigadier general/commodore (0-7) to lieutenant general/vice admiral (0-9), upon reaching the age of 59 or the maximum tenure-in-grade as defined in the law, whichever comes earlier;
- those occupying a key position upon completion of the fixed tour of duty regardless of age, unless promoted to chief of staff or who is relieved from post and is not designated to or occupying any position in the AFP Table of Organization; and
- those commissioned under Presidential Decree No. 1908, and those appointed in the Corps of Professors upon reaching the age of 60 or completion of 20 years of satisfactory active duty, whichever comes later.
An enlisted personnel will also be deemed compulsorily retired upon accumulation of at least 30 years of satisfactory active duty or upon reaching the age of 56, whichever comes later.
An officer or enlisted personnel may also request to be retired from military service upon accumulation of at least 20 years of satisfactory active duty.
An enlisted personnel who fails to qualify or fails to satisfy any of the conditions for promotion to the next higher grade as determined by the appropriate Enlisted Personnel Promotion Board will be referred to the concerned Review and Evaluation Board for evaluation and subsequent recommendation to the Major Service Commanders for attrition or retention.
The grounds for referral shall be provided in the rules and regulations to be issued for the effective implementation of the law. —KBK, GMA News