President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law giving three-year fixed terms for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, vice chief of staff, deputy chief of staff; the Philippine Army’s commanding general; the Philippine Air Force’s commanding general; the Philippine Navy’s flag officer in command; unified commanders; and the inspector general.
Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11709, which aims to strengthen the merit system of the AFP and ensure continuity of programs and policies. One of its most important provisions is the creation of fixed terms for its key officers.
The new law would end the “revolving door” policy that gave rise to military chiefs serving for only a few months before they reached mandatory retirement.
The tour of duty of the aforementioned officers will begin once the date the appointment is signed and will occupy their post for three consecutive years unless sooner terminated by the President, provided that those mentioned will not be eligible for any other position in the Armed Forces unless promoted to the position of Chief of Staff.
The new measure also adjusted the compulsory retirement age of military personnel.
Grades of Second Lieutenant/Ensign (O-1) to Colonel/Captain (O-6) – upon reaching 56 years of age or 30 years in active duty, whichever is later.
Grades of Brigadier General/Commodore (O-7) to Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral (O-9) – upon reaching 59 years of age or the maximum tenure-in-grade as defined in this law, whichever comes earlier.
Key officers with fixed term of three years – retire after completing fixed tour of duty, unless promoted to Chief of Staff or relieved from post and not designated to, or occupying, any position in the AFP Table of Organizations Commissioned under Presidential Decree No. 1908 and appointed in the Corps of Professors – upon reaching 60 years of age or 20 years of active duty, whichever comes later.
In addition, the fixed tour of duty of the chief of staff may be extended by the President “in times of war or other national emergency declared by Congress.”
Under the old law, all military officials are to serve until the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Rep. Ruffy Biazon welcomed the new law, calling it “a game changer for the AFP.”
“I thank President Duterte for finally closing the revolving door that has long put the Armed Forces of the Philippines on constant short-term reset and making it prone to politicization due to the constant jostling for positions, especially at the higher ranks,” said Biazon, vice chairman of the House committee on national defense.
Biazon, one of the measure’s authors at the House, said “this proposal has been pending for more than two decades, although it could have been passed into law in the 16th Congress had it not been vetoed by (the past administration).
“I am thankful that after filing and refiling it since my first term since 2001, it has finally become a Republic Act,” Biazon added.
Biazon said the new law would enhance stability in the leadership, provide a focused effort in developing the armed forces and reduce the military politics resulting from the process of “selecting leaders frequently.”
The new law also provides a tour of duty of four years for the superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “unless sooner terminated by higher authority.”
Except for the position of chief of staff, the PMA superintendent shall not be eligible for any other position in the AFP and will be compulsorily retired after completion of the fixed tour of duty or upon relief from office.