CA okays appointment of AFP chief 11 days before retirement

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Appointments unanimously confirmed the appointment of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Wednesday, December 6, with only 11 days remaining before his retirement.

Guerrero will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on December 17. There is no word yet if his term will be extended. 

Guerrero breezed through the confirmation process with some lawmakers lamenting his short term, but no one questioned the wisdom of his appointment.

Instead, the bicameral committee discussed changing the retirement age in the military. 

Guerrero argued his two-month term – if he is not extended – does not prevent him from implementing the military campaign plan. 

"The AFP operates based on set programs and a campaign plan. We have a set of activities and a timetable to achieve monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually until the full length of the campaign plan," Guerrero said. 

"I'm ready to retire anytime. Whether I'm extended or not, what is important is for me to be able to render honorable service to our people," he said. 

The CA also confirmed the appointment of 40 other military officers, including Army chief Lieutenant General Rolando Joselito Bautista, Northern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Emmanuel Salamat, and Eastern Mindanao Command Lieutenant General Benjamin Madrigal. 

Guerrero, a "Davao general" close to President Rodrigo Duterte, was supposed to lead the military as early as June 2016 – when Año was supposed to retire early to lead the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – and serve for 6 months. 

But the Marawi siege forced Año to stay put until his retirement in October.

Duterte still pushed through with Guerrero's appointment. (READ: Duterte appoints general about to retire as next AFP chief)

Guerrero took the helm of the Philippine military as it shifted its focus from fighters inspired by the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS) to fighting communist rebels the government now tags as "terrorists."

This was Guerrero's turf. Before his appoitnment as chief of staff, Guerrero served as commanding general of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), where communist rebels are reportedly concentrated. –