MANILA – As Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Año is set to retire early to assume his post as Interior Secretary, the military has yet to recommend a replacement.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Saturday that the AFP has yet to name candidates who may replace Año, who is retiring next month ahead of his supposed exit from the military on Oct. 26, when he turns 56, the mandatory retirement age.
“The AFP Board of Generals has yet to submit a shortlist of candidates to the president,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella said in a statement on Saturday.
President Rodrigo Duterte is known to have sought Año's retirement by June 2 so he could take over the Department of Interior and Local Government, an agency critical in the administration's anti-crime drive. The Philippine National Police is among agencies under the department.
The department is under its interim head Catalino Cuy, who took the place of Ismael Sueno when the latter was fired over corruption allegations in early April.
Abella said Año's early retirement was "to pave the way for a smooth transition" into his role at the DILG.
While the AFP board has yet to draw up a list of nominees for the next Chief of Staff, names being floated by the military leadership include Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado, Navy Flag Officer in Command; Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Commander, Eastern Mindanao Command; Lt. Gen. Salvador Mison, Jr., AFP Vice Chief of Staff; Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson, Deputy Chief of Staff; and Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Commander, Western Mindanao Command.
Earlier this month, Año called Guerrero a strong contender, having led Task Force Davao and served as commander of the 701st Infantry Brigade in Davao Oriental.
"Ever since naman, talaga namang si Lt. Gen. Guerrero ay isa sa mga contenders sa Chief of Staff, even during the time of PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III). At pag dumating ka na sa rank ng Lt. General, qualified ka na talaga,” he said.
While Año's appointment to the DILG was welcomed by Duterte's allies such as police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, activists have decried his appointment as a “militarization” of the government.
Earlier, Duterte appointed former AFP Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in place of Gina Lopez, whose nomination to the post was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.