MANILA – Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año will remain the military chief in the next six months after he was tapped by President Rodrigo Duterte to become the martial law administrator in Mindanao.
Duterte had earlier appointed Año as the next Interior secretary, wanting him to take the post as soon as June, ahead of his supposed exit from the military on Oct. 26, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 57.
The President, however, said it might not be ideal for Año to leave his post in the wake of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
“Dito na lang tayo sa present setup…Año is supposed to retire next week, but I said it’s not good to be changing horses [in the middle of the] stream,” Duterte said.
“He is extended in his tour of duty for another 6 months. After that, we will review," Duterte said, taking questions from the media upon his return to Manila from his shortened official visit to Russia.
Duterte had appointed Año to head the Department of Interior and Local Government, which is critical in his anti-crime campaign as it supervises the Philippine National Police.
He would take the place of Ismael Sueno, who was fired in April for pushing ahead with a supposedly questionable firetrucks deal forged under the previous administration.
Duterte placed all of Mindanao under martial law after government troops clashed with the Maute Group in Marawi City on Tuesday, where the terror group burned down buildings and held several hostage.
The clashes prompted Duterte to cut short his supposed trip to Russia.
The President’s martial law declaration followed his repeated statements to impose martial rule in Mindanao to resolve lingering law and order problems.
With his martial law declaration, Duterte also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which would allow warrantless arrests.
The clashes erupted as government troops were about to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader who has been named the Philippine head of the Islamic State. The US government is offering a $5-million bounty for his capture.
The President is mandated by the Constitution to submit to Congress his justification for declaring martial law within 48 hours of his declaration. The legislature will then conduct a review and decide by a majority vote whether to uphold or revoke the declaration.