Armed Forces of the Philippines

New defense chief Galvez vows to protect integrity of military appointments

Sofia Tomacruz
New defense chief Galvez vows to protect integrity of military appointments

NEW LEADER. Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez faces the media during a press conference inside Camp Aguinaldo headquarters on January 12, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

'That is the one (thing) that what we are asking our leaders…to respect the traditions and also the mandated power of the Board of Generals and our senior officers,' says newly appointed Secretary of National Defense Carlito Galvez Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ new defense chief Carlito Galvez Jr. vowed to to protect the integrity of the vetting system used to select the top officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after sudden changes in the military leadership over the week rocked the uniformed service and sparked rumors of unrest.

Galvez, who faced the media for the first time as defense secretary on Thursday, January 12, made the statement after jointly presiding over the AFP’s command conference with reappointed military chief General Andres Centino.

“We can assure that during our watch, we will always maintain the integrity of the Board of the Generals and the decision of the board of senior officers,” Galvez told reporters.

He continued: “And that is the one (thing) that what we are asking our leaders…to respect the traditions and also the mandated power of the Board of Generals and our senior officers.”

Questions on whether or not the Marcos administration followed the military’s traditional vetting process in selecting its leaders were raised in recent days, after the unprecedented leadership shake-up saw the country’s two highest security officials leave their posts in just a matter of days.

Centino, who returned to the AFP only five months after relinquishing his position as military chief, replaced Lieutenant General Bartolome Vincente Bacarro, Marcos’ first AFP chief.

Bacarro first took command of the military in August 2022 and was expected to hold his post until 2025, owing to Republic Act 11709, a law that mandated fixed three-year tour of duty for key AFP officials, “unless sooner terminated by the President.”

It was this development that prompted former defense officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. to resign on January 6. Faustino earlier disclosed that he had been kept out of the loop on Bacarro’s exit, learning only through the media that Centino had taken his oath with Marcos.

When asked if Marcos had given him a reason for his reappointment, Centino avoided giving a direct answer, saying only that the President had the prerogative to appoint and terminate the AFP chief of staff.

“As soldiers, we just have to abide,” Centino said.

Galvez likewise said he was not privy to Marcos’ reason for replacing Bacarro, adding it was a “policy decision.”

Traditional process

The process of selecting a new AFP chief is one that has been long established. It is the Board of Generals that first vets nominees, with the defense chief later sending a short list to the President.

It remained unclear if Marcos followed this process. Despite the apparent decision to keep Faustino out of the loop in the full process, or at least the final selection, the former defense official said the AFP is a “highly disciplined and competent organization that will survive under any given circumstance.”

On Thursday, Galvez also sought to assure the public that this system would not be compromised.

“We will make sure that meritocracy, inclusivity, and a sense of fairness will always be there in the professionalization of the Armed Forces,” he said.

Fast track promotions

Following this, Galvez said he wanted to address remaining promotions in the military that had been delayed. The defense secretary was asked about supposed rumblings in the AFP, which he claimed had “no truth,” although he added that the troops raised some “valid issues.”

“We are resolving it now. One of those is what we call some delays in promotion,” Galvez said, adding that he asked Marcos if the defense department could “immediately” submit names of officers up for promotion.

Galvez said Marcos agreed.

So ang amin ngayon (So our [focus] now) is to fast-track some remaining promotions and also the deployment of different commanders…and that is why I am asking the Board of Generals to do overtime even during the weekend,” he said. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

author

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.