Mindanao task force commander Faustino is next AFP chief, but will only serve 4 months

Published July 30, 2021, 3:16 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., incumbent commander of a newly-formed joint task force (JTF) in Mindanao, has been appointed by President Duterte to be the next Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) effective Saturday, July 31.

Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. is appointed as the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines effective July 31, 2021. (File photo courtesy of AFP)

Capt. Jonathan Zata, AFP public affairs chief, confirmed that Faustino will replace Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who is set to retire from the military service on Saturday.

“The AFP welcomes the decision of the President to appoint Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino as the next Chief of Staff of the aFP, replacing General Cirilito Sobejana who will retire on Saturday, July 31,” Zata said in a statement sent to reporters on Friday.

The signed appointment papers of Faustino dated July 29, 2021 was sent by the Office of the President to Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Faustino is the current head of the JTF for Peace and Security in Mindanao, a task force created last month to “unify the efforts” of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) and the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM).

However, he will serve as AFP chief for a brief four months as he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 for military personnel this coming November.

Prior to the latest appointment, Faustino was installed by Sobejana as the acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army (PA) as stated in a memorandum order dated February 11. However, he only served for three months.

On May 18, he was removed by Sobejana from office — in an unprecedented move in the major service unit — and replaced by Major Gen. Andres Centino as the Army chief.

This, after former general and now Senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out that his appointment in the Army was a violation of Section 4 of Republic Act 8186. It states that AFP officers are prohibited to take major service command posts except for the AFP Chief “if he has less than one year of active service remaining prior to compulsory retirement.”

A product of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Maringal” Class of 1988, Faustino has a “[wealthy] experience” as a commander and staff officer which will be crucial in sustaining the gains of the military, particularly in its focus on intensified anti-insurgency campaign, according to Zata.

Faustino had also served as the commander of the Davao City-based EASTMINCOM, 10th Infantry Division in Eastern Mindanao covering parts of Davao (Region 11) and SOCCSKSARGEN (Region 12), and head of 11th Intelligence Service Unit also in Davao.