Early retirement for AFP chief Año?

Carmela Fonbuena

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Early retirement for AFP chief Año?
The chief of staff may assume his new post as DILG secretary in June, 4 months before his scheduled retirement from the military

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año may be transferred as early as next month to his new post as Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). (READ: AFP chief Año is next DILG chief – Duterte)

“June pa yata (yet I think) for him to wrap up some projects sa (at the) AFP,” Lorenzana told Rappler in a text message on Thursday, May 11.

This is 4 months before Año’s mandatory retirement on October 26 and would reduce his AFP chief of staff stint to a mere 6 months.

Año told Rappler he’s still awaiting orders from President Rodrigo Duterte. The two of them will meet when Duterte returns from his trip abroad.

“I have to prepare already,” Año said.

Duterte told reporters on Wednesday, May 10, that Año will take the post vacated by former DILG Secretary Mike Sueno, an announcement that surprised the military general.

Asked how soon he wants Año to assume office, Duterte said: “I want him to complete because there are projects which he has to…. At this time, you cannot just pull out somebody in the armed forces especially those who are tasked to program what will happen next, and [plan] the remedies that we are supposed to be ready [with].”

It was not clear if the President wants Año to complete his term or just the deadlines imposed on him.

When Rappler asked Lorenzana to clarify, he said the new appointment could happen as early as June.

Why early retirement?

Año became AFP chief of staff in December 2016. Under his command, the military has been pushing hard against the Abu Sayyaf in the terrorist group’s known lairs in Sulu and Basilan.

Observers said it’s a puzzle he would be made to retire early given the military’s intensified operations and redeployment in its anti-terror campaign.

As DILG chief, Año will have direct supervision over a civilian organization, the Philippine National Police, which is headed by Ronald dela Rosa, who was 3 years his junior at the Philippine Military Academy.

“I have a problem with the police.. .I was reading coming here, another spot report of 4 policemen again kidnapping – putangina talaga itong mga police na ito (these policemen are really sons-of-bitches). So you need one, somebody who knows the police by the fingertips. Kailangan ‘yan (That’s needed),” Duterte said, referring to Año.

Año’s predecessor, retired General Ricardo Visaya, also served for barely 6 months.

Visaya also joined Duterte’s Cabinet, as chief of the National Irrigation Administration.

Año will be the 6th former military chief in Duterte’s government.

The others aside from him and Visaya are National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David, newly appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, and Palace Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista. But Bautista was assigned by former president Benigno Aquino III, one of the few Aquino appointees in Malacañang who had been asked to stay. – Rappler.com

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