MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday explained that his decision to pick Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año as military chief was based on the seniority rule.
“That is pursuant to my promise during the election that I would not tinker with the selection and promotion of military officers,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.
Earlier, there were rumors that Duterte was set to pick Lieutenant General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Guerrero, who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class ’84, is perceived to be a close friend of the president. He is currently serving as the commanding general of the Eastern Mindanao Command which is based in Duterte’s home city.
Año is a year ahead of Guerrero. He began his military service on March 11, 1983.
He served as brigade commander of the 201st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and commanding general of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division with operational responsibility over Davao Region, parts of Region 12, and two other areas.
Under his leadership, the 10th ID launched an operation that resulted in the killing of Leoncio Pitao aka Kumander Parago, the highest NPA official and most influential leader in the Davao region.
He also served as assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the Army, and then moved up to assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the entire Armed Forces.
During this time, top NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and Andrea Rosal - alleged NPA commander and daughter of the late NPA spokesman ka Roger Rosal - were captured.
Retired Major General Jovito Palparan, who was accused of abducting student activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, was also arrested under Año.
Año was appointed commanding general of the Philippine Army in July 2015.
After his installation as 57th chief of the Army, Año declared his commitment to reduce the number of NPA rebels to less than 1,000 by 2016.
Año’s appointment as military chief did not sit well with militant groups because of his background of going after communist rebels.