Romualdez, allies want to remove 3-year fixed term for some AFP officials

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2022 06:13 PM

House Speaker Martin Romualdez and other lawmakers want to do away with the 3-year fixed term for some of the key officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Romualdez said there were some important issues raised by personnel of the military about the law that covers military officials' terms of office.

“I understand them and they are all valid. I have discussed these with our House leaders and the committee on national defense and security and the bill is our way of addressing the concerns of our officers and enlisted personnel in the AFP,” Romualdez said in a statement.

House Bill 6482, which Romualdez authored with Representatives Raul Tupas, Mercedes Alvarez, Divina Grace Yu and Jorge Bustos, seeks to limit the fixed tour of duty to the Chief of Staff, the commanding generals of the major services, and the PMA Superintendent while allowing lateral movement for other key positions. 

It also allows the organization to manage the tenure-in-grade of enlisted personnel.

The bill will empower the Secretary of National Defense in consultation with the AFP to prescribe the authorized number of officers in the active force in each grade and in each major, technical or administrative service and implement the gradual increase or decrease in the number of officers in each officer rank based on the mission requirement, capabilities, scope of responsibility, technical nature of the position and task.

The bill will restore the rule that except for the Chief of Staff of the AFP, no officer shall be designated to the key positions or promoted to the rank of Brigadier General/Commodore or higher if said officer has less than six (6) months of active service remaining prior to compulsory retirement.

It also provides for lengthening for those in the positions of Captain, Major, and Lieutenant Colonel and increase the maximum tenure-in-grade for Colonel while it also addresses the retirement grade provision of the law together with the proposed measures on pension and retirement for Military and other Uniformed Personnel.

The authors justified the need to revisit the law following consultations.

"As a law of national significance, there is an imperative need to revisit its key provisions and to make it more responsive to the needs of the AFP. Consistent with Sec. 23 of the law which provides for the conduct for a systematic review, evaluation, and impact assessment of the Act, a pro-active stance was taken to consult the organization, officers, and enlisted personnel on the recommendations and courses of action," the explanatory note said.

"After the passage into law of Republic Act No. 11709 1 , a significant number of proposals and recommendations from officers and enlisted personnel were made to amend some provisions in order to make it more responsive to the needs, peculiar situation, organizational culture and human resource development of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)," The bill also said.

In laying down the proposed changes, which it called enhancements, the bill also explained the need to give more time to implement reforms in the AFP.

"In the enhancement of the law, the policies of professionalization of the organization, allowing the leadership for a longer period to implement reforms, and obviating the revolving door policy regarding promotions will continuously be pursued," The bill said.

Republic Act (RA) No. 11709, was signed on April 13 this year by then President Rodrigo Duterte.

A press release from the Speaker's office said the bill also fixes the compulsory retirement age for certain high-ranking officers: 57 years for those with the rank of brigadier general/commodore, 58 for those with the rank of major general/rear admiral and 59 for those occupying the rank of lieutenant general/vice admiral.