More than a month after a dramatic and messy few weeks that saw changes in three of the country’s top defense and security posts, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first full-time defense chief doesn’t appear to be his final choice.
At the Philippine Military Academy (PMA)’s 2023 alumni homecoming on Saturday, February 18, the President introduced the defense chief and former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Carlito Galvez as “officer-in-charge” of the Department of National Defense and as “Senior Undersecretary.”
Marcos emphasized as much, thanking “Senior Usec. Carlito Galvez Jr.” for introducing him during the program.
Galvez, a member of the PMA Class of 1985, took over the defense portfolio in early January 2023 after its former officer-in-charge Jose Faustino quit after being kept out of the loop in Marcos’ surprise decision to switch AFP chiefs.
Faustino, from the PMA Class of 1988, was appointed defense OIC in June 2022. At that time, he was not eligible to hold a Cabinet Secretary rank because of a law that requires retired generals to wait a year before assuming the post of defense secretary.
This is how the Palace Communications Office announced Galvez’ appointment: It is with deep regret that the President has accepted the resignation of DND OIC Sr. Usec. Jose Faustino Jr. The President has offered the position of DND Secretary to Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. and he has accepted.”
As presidential adviser, Galvez has always held the rank and title of secretary. Yet as interim head of the DND, he seems to have been downgraded to Senior Undersecretary – the same rank Faustino once held. The latest information from the Commission on Appointments – which vets and confirms presidential appointees in certain posts – shows Galvez not being scheduled for a confirmation hearing.
There have long been rumors that Faustino – and now, even Galvez – were always meant to be mere fill-ins for the job as the President waits for the appointment ban to end. Losing candidates in the national elections may only be appointed to government or a government-owned corporation a year after the polls.
Former defense chief Gibo Teodoro, who ran as senator under Marcos’ Uniteam coalition, has persistently been rumored to be top pick as the President’s first and actual full-time defense chief. Is he truly it? – Rappler.com
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