(File photo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday Republic Act (RA) 11709 will allow continuity in all campaigns and programs implemented by the military.

"We can expect that there will be continuity in the campaigns that we are implementing. The AFP supports it because it will support the professionalization of the Armed Forces, further professionalization, we can prevent (the) revolving door scheme and therefore we can also retain who is the best among us in the service," AFP acting spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a press briefing.

RA 11709 which took effect on July 1 is formally known as "An Act Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization Initiatives in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, by Prescribing Fixed Terms For Key Officers Thereof, Increasing the Mandatory Retirement Age of Generals/Flag Officers, Providing for a More Effective Attrition System, And Promoting Funds Therefor".

Since this is already a law, Aguilar said the AFP will follow but they are waiting for the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) so they will know how to implement it at "ground level."

Aguilar said he is still to hear any opposition against the law.

"Now I have not heard any grumbling yet, the Armed Forces is a professional organization and we will support anybody who will be put in a position to lead us," he added.

On Wednesday, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will adhere to the law, which means AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Andres Castor Centino, will stay in his post until the end of his fixed three-year term in February 2023.

Under the law, 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 extend the AFP chief-of-staff's tour of duty in times of war or other national emergency declared by Congress. Also, the law gives the Philippine Military Academy superintendent a tour of duty of four years, "unless sooner terminated by higher authority."

Meanwhile, the law provides for the compulsory retirement of military personnel at 56 or 30 years' satisfactory active duty, whichever is later - for those in the grades of second lieutenant/ensign (O-1) to colonel/captain (O-6). For those in the grades of brigadier general/commodore (O-7) to lieutenant general/vice admiral (O-9), the retirement age will be 59 or the maximum tenure-in-grade, whichever comes earlier.

Officers or enlisted personnel may avail of optional retirement upon accumulation of at least 20 years' satisfactory active duty.

The law also provides that officers and enlisted personnel shall be retired one rank higher from the last rank held, provided that retirement benefits shall be based on the permanent grade last held, though this will not apply to those still in active duty prior to the effectivity of the law; and provided that the said retirees will form part of the Reserve Force.

It also limits the number of general officers to 0.01 percent of the AFP's total strength and will reduce the number of its general officers from the present 196 to 153, which is believed to be the optimal number of generals to efficiently and competently lead the military. (PNA)