THE draft Constitution endorsed by Malacañang to Congress proposes a minimum 24-month tour of duty for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, a congressman has bared.
“We welcome the proposal, which is somewhat similar to our bill seeking to give the AFP chief of staff a fixed 36-month tour of duty,” said Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, a member of the House committee on national defense and security committee.
In the draft Constitution, Pimentel said the AFP chief of staff’s tour of duty “shall not be less than two years and not more than three years from the time of appointment, unless sooner removed by the President for loss of trust and confidence.”
At present, Pimentel said the 1987 Constitution does not specify a minimum or fixed tour of duty for the chief of staff, other than it “shall not exceed three years,” except when extended by the President in times of war or other national emergency.
“In any case, we will insist on a flat three-year term for the military’s chief operating officer because it offers greater constancy,” said Pimentel.
Since the 1986 People Power Revolution, or over a 32-year period, the AFP has had 32 chiefs of staff serving an average of less than a year, largely because many of them were appointed within a few months before reaching the military’s compulsory retirement age of 56 years.
The incumbent chief of staff, Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., who assumed office only in April, is expected to serve less than eight months. He is due to retire in December.
Pimentel’s House Bill (HB) No. 3402 sets a stable three-year term for the chief of staff. When he or she reaches 56 years old before completing the fixed term, his or her statutory forced retirement would be deferred.
The bill affirms the President’s absolute power, as commander-in-chief of all armed forces, to remove the chief of staff “at will” – or at any time before the end of 36 months.