MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now in "high morale" amid ongoing meetings and discussions to amend the law prescribing fixed terms to around 14 to 17 key positions, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters at its headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Galvez also thanked Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri for supporting their recommendation to replace the fixed term with an "extended tenure of service" for officers.
He added that the fixed term provision clamped the AFP Senior Board of Officers' ability to place the best among the qualified officials in certain areas.
"We will remove the term 'fixed term', instead we will use the term 'extended tenure of service', yun ang gagamitin natin (we will use that) so there is no such thing as fixed term already, hindi maging absolute, magiging flexible yung tinatawag nating career management ng ating mga key officers (it will not be absolute, we will have a flexible career management for our key officers)," he added.
Under Republic Act (RA) 11709, also known as the Act Strengthening Professionalism in the AFP, the AFP chief-of-staff, vice chief-of-staff, deputy chief-of-staff, heads of the major services (Army, Navy and Air Force), unified command commanders and inspector general will have a three-year term of office "unless sooner terminated by the President."
The President may also extend the AFP chief-of-staff's tour of duty in times of war or other national emergencies declared by Congress.
Earlier, Galvez said rumblings in the AFP are merely anxiety of its personnel on the possible effects of the law on their careers.
During the Jan. 17 Senate hearing, the DND presented proposed amendments to RA 11709.
These include having the AFP chief a maximum term of three years, while service commanders like the Army, Navy, and Air Force will have two years and the Philippine Military Academy superintendent having four-year tenure.
Meanwhile, the AFP vice chief-of-staff, deputy chief-of-staff, unified command commanders, and inspector general can be appointed to a higher post if they still have a year left in active service.
Also included are proposals that no military officials can be promoted to brigadier general or commodore if they have less than six months left in the service.
"The DND's proposed amendments to RA 11709 aim to further enhance the professionalism and efficiency of the AFP. The issues surrounding the law are being threshed out collaboratively between the DND and the AFP," Galvez said.
He also said the DND shall continue to pursue policies that will further enhance the welfare, morale, professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the AFP.
Meanwhile, Galvez cited the need for the DND to remain relevant at all times.
"We are all aware that the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are among the most trusted organizations in the government. As such we must work hard to reciprocate this trust. We need to keep our organization relevant all (the) time," he added.
However, Galvez said that being relevant does not mean that the DND needs to be in the headlines all the time.
"This means that the people need to feel our presence and relevance. This is in line with our mandate to (preserve) the territorial integrity of our nation while protecting and serving the Filipino people in the best way possible," he added.
During his latest meeting with the Chief Executive, Galvez also reiterated the guidance of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. which is to ensure the country's sovereignty.
"Before I end I would like to share with you the guidance of His Excellency President Ferdinand Marcos during the latest meeting we had in Malacanang. He stressed that the Defense Department must ensure that our nation's sovereignty will be protected at all cost and no inch of our national territory will be lost," he added. (PNA)