MANILA, Philippines – Lieutenant General Noel Clement, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was promoted to the rank of general on Wednesday, October 30, more than a month since assuming the post, and just over two months before he is set to retire.
The military chief received his 4th star from Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary Cardozo Luna in a donning-of-rank ceremony at the DND office in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, the AFP General Headquarters, in Quezon City.
Clement officially assumed command of the AFP on September 24, in a ceremony that President Rodrigo Duterte was supposed to lead, but skipped at the last minute because he was unwell, according to his spokesman, Salvador Panelo.
After having led the government's military campaign against communist insurgents in the Visayas as chief of the AFP Central Command, Clement promised "continuity" as the new military chief. He will only be serving 3 and a half months before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on January 5, 2020.
Although Duterte may opt to extend Clement's term, critics have pointed out that the so-called "revolving door policy" of appointing military chiefs close to retiring could be counterproductive or even detrimental.
The AFP currently faces several pressing issues, such as the territorial threat from China in the West Philippine Sea, terrorism from extremist groups, the communist insurgency, and internally, the reported cases of hazing in the Philippine Military Academy.
One of Clement's first priorities, he said, is to fulfill Duterte's order to end the communist rebellion, which began in 1969 and is now Asia's longest-running insurgency.
Clement's donning-of-rank ceremony was attended by AFP Vice Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr, Army chief Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Rozzano Briguez, and AFP Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, as well as Clement's wife and two sons. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.