Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr., a former army chief, was named the new chief of staff of the Armed of the Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, July 30.
Faustino is the 10th military chief appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte in less than six years, rivaling the 11 AFP chiefs named by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her nine years as commander-in-chief.
In a statement released on Friday, the AFP confirmed Faustino’s appointment.
The AFP said Faustino’s experiences qualify him to lead the 140,000-strong military.
“His wealth of experience and passion for service as a Commander and staff officer, gives him the mettle to lead the AFP in accomplishing its mission especially as we turn up a notch in our operations in achieving lasting peace and development in the country,” the AFP said.
Faustino replaced the short-termed Cirilito Sobejana, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Saturday, July 31. But just like his predecessors, Faustino will also serve for a short time because he is slated to retire in November.
Duterte is known for assigning police or military chiefs who will be retiring in less than a year. Sobejana served for only six months (January to July 2021) while his predecessor, Gilbert Gapay, led the military for only five months (August 2020 to January 2021).
Faustino served as the commander of Davao-based Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom). Under his leadership, the Eastmincom focused on the operations against the New People’s Army.
The new AFP chief of staff also led the 10th Infantry Division based in Davao de Oro and served as chief of the 11th Intelligence Service Unit in Davao City.
He also led the army troops as the commander of 35th Infantry Battalion and the 501st Infantry Brigade in Southern Mindanao.
From Mindanao to AFP
Prior to his appointment as the highest-ranking military officer, Faustino held at least two vital positions in the AFP.
After his stint in Mindanao, Faustino served as army chief but only for 104 days. His term as the 6th commanding general of the army under Duterte was cut short on May 18, after Senator Panfilo Lacson, flagged Faustino’s appointment as unconstitutional.
Lacson said that Faustino’s appointment was illegal under the law that required major service chiefs and other senior officers – except for the military chief of staff – to have at least one year in active service as a condition for their promotion.
Shortly, the military created the Joint Task Force Mindanao and appointed Faustino as its first-ever commander.
Faustino is a member of the ruling Philippine Military Academy Maringal Class of 1988.
The three highest officers of AFP services are his mistahs. These are Army chief Major General Andres Centino, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Allen Paredes, and Navy flag officer-in-command Rear Admiral Adeluis Bordado. – with reports from Pia Ranada and Rambo Talabong/ Rappler.com