MANILA — Newly designated Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday confirmed the "rumblings" within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) due to the "unintended consequences" of a new law that set their term of office.
Galvez made the admission during the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security's hearing on the proposed amendment to Republic Act No. 11709 or the law signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte last year.
The law sets to 3 years the term of office of the AFP chief of staff, vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, commanding general of the Army and Air Force, flag officer in command of the Navy, unified command commanders, and inspector general, "unless sooner terminated by the President."
"Sa ngayon po sir, I believe we are addressing it, nakita namin yung isang malaking problema, based on my experience also, pagka na-delay ang promotion, at na-delay ang designation, pumapatak yung kanilang retirement eh," Galvez told the Senate panel.
Duterte signed the law in a bid to do away with the "revolving door policy" and allow military leaders to implement reforms.
But Galvez said the law has "unintended consequences."
"Though we acknowledge the beauty of RA11709, the intention of preventing of revolving policy, but the intended consequences of prohibiting the junior classes to compete equally medyo yun po ang nagiging epekto," he said.
The official said military officials belonging to classes '90 to '94 were the ones "gravely affected" by the new law.
"Talagang it gravely affected the morale.... [sa classes] 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, hindi sila maka-angat. Kasi nagkaka-edad na sila, in our case, nag-brigade commander ako, 49, sila nag-51, 52 na, hindi pa sila nagbi-brigade. So medyo apektado yung kanilang career," Galvez explained.
Galvez said he talked to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. before his departure for Davos to raise the issue within the AFP.
"Sinabi ko sa kanya, 'sir, there is a major issue that we need to tackle.' Kasi ano to eh, buhay ng ating mga officers, 30 years nilang pinaghirapan tapos magiging default lang sila," Galvez said.
Galvez recommended that instead of a fixed term, the law should be amended to allow "maximum term" for the AFP officials.
"Majority of the issues, if we will pass this amendment, will solve the lingering... short-term and long-term effects of the law that we passed previously," Galvez said.
Estrada said he will follow the recommendation of the AFP instead of adopting the House version of the bill.
The bill hurdled the Estrada's committee and will be sponsored to the plenary next week when the session resumes.
Estrada said he is eyeing to pass the law in March.