SALUTE. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino (center) greets Philippine Army staff and personnel during a visit at their headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig on April 12, 2022. He is the longest-serving military chief since 2014 as he will be in office for 449 days or until he reaches the compulsory retirement age of 56 on Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo courtesy of PH Army Facebook)

MANILA – The new law that sets a fixed term for the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) chief of staff and other key officials will end the disservice to the military leadership entrusted with the security and defense of the country.

Republic Act (RA) 11709, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 13, sets a fixed three-year tour of duty for the AFP chief of staff, vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, major service commanders (Army, Air Force, and Navy), unified command commanders, and inspector general "unless sooner terminated by the President".

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the Committee on National Defense and Security, said on Tuesday the law will end the "revolving door" policy in the AFP.

"The leaders of our AFP will have the opportunity to implement their legacy programs instead of staying in office too briefly," he said in a statement.

Lacson, principal sponsor and a co-author of the bill, said RA 11709 will ensure the implementation of merit-based promotion and attrition systems that will assure the AFP of a continuous pool of qualified and effective leaders.

"The measure, which strengthens professionalism and continuity of the policies and modernization initiatives of the AFP, stemmed from a long-standing clamor from the military and should address the issue of stability and continuity of military leadership as some AFP chiefs of staff had terms lasting less than seven months," he said.

Senator Richard Gordon made an emphasis on the continuity and stability in AFP leadership for the defense and security of the country.

He hopes the law will expand to provide the President more choices in appointing the most qualified, not only officials who are about to retire.

“As defenders of our land, we desire to have military leaders that have vision for the improvement of our armed forces. Changes need to be made because the status quo is clearly not working,” he said in another statement.

RA 11709 is expected to enhance professionalization in the organization by strengthening the merit system, allowing the new leadership a longer period to implement reforms, and institutionalize sound policies that will redound to the improvement of the AFP.

It also aims to promote the most qualified officers to higher ranks; obviate revolving door accommodation promotions to successfully create a new culture of excellence in leadership and accountability in the AFP; and refine and improve the rules on retirement.

“This shall make the AFP a more efficient and effective organization and will contribute to the realization of our vision of a more credible Armed Forces which is a source of national pride,” the AFP said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are grateful for the support of the administration as well as the Senate and the House of Representatives in ensuring the continuity of our programs and operations.” (PNA)