Fixed 3-year terms for military chiefs ensure stability of programs

Published May 19, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin

One of the important principles in strategic management is the stability of policy making — and the tenure of the leader is a key factor in ensuring such stability. For this reason, Congress has crafted a path-finding measure, Republic Act 11709, signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last April 13, that provides fixed terms for the Chief of Staff and senior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Senator Panfilo Lacson, principal author of the bill framed its rationale appropriately: “Finally, we will see an end to 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. The revolving-door policy has always been a disservice to the mandates of the military leadership entrusted with the security and defense of the country.”

Recall that many times in the past, some AFP chiefs and major service commanders of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Air Force, served for only a few months. Any fair-minded observer would have questioned how such state of affairs could not be deemed detrimental — especially as it affects top-level decision making in the agencies responsible for securing the country’s peace and order and warding off threats to national security.

Under RA 11709, 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. Their tour of duty shall start on the date their appointment is signed and shall be for three consecutive years unless terminated sooner by the President.

Also, the law gives the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) superintendent a tour of duty of four years, “unless sooner terminated by higher authority.”

Another notable provision in the law is the one which says, “A retired or resigned military officer may not be appointed as defense secretary within one year from the date of his or her retirement or resignation.”
The new law is welcomed positively by the military establishment.