MANILA - The Senate on Monday approved on final reading a bill seeking to impose a three-year fixed term for senior military officials, including the Armed Forces' chief of staff.
All senators voted in favor of Senate Bill No. 2376, or the proposed “Act Strengthening Professionalism and Continuity of the Policies and Modernization Initiatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Providing Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes", with no abstention.
The bill was proposed by Senators Richard Gordon, Koko Pimentel and Manny Pacquiao. A similar proposed measure is still being deliberated in the lower House.
Besides the AFP chief of staff, the bill seeks an imposition of fixed terms for the vice chief of staff, deputy chief-of-staff, major service commanders of all military branches, unified command chiefs, and the Inspector General.
The bill aims to halt the “revolving door policy”, wherein military officials do not stay in their positions long enough due to early retirement or transfer.
Senators hope that under the measure, the AFP will be able to work on reforms and policies to shape the country's military to modern standards.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation Committee, said the bill will also settle the tough restrictions of Section 5, Paragraph 5, Article XVI of the Constitution, which prohibits the extension of military officers' terms when they reach retirement age.
The bill will also shift the compulsory retirement age of military officers ranked second lieutenant/ensign (O-1) to colonel/captain (O-6), from 56 to 59, or the accumulation of 30 years of “satisfactory active duty”, whichever comes first. The retirement age of brigadier general, lieutenant-general, and other ranks are also adjusted.
A military officer, meanwhile, is not allowed to be appointed as Secretary of National Defense a year after his retirement or resignation, under the bill.
Under President Rodrigo Duterte, multiple retired military officers have been appointed as part of his Cabinet.
— Report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News