Senate panel sets hearing on AFP tenure law on January 17

The Senate Committee on National Defense and Security will start tackling the bill seeking to amend the law fixing the term of some Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials on Tuesday, January 17.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Sunday, January 15, said his panel will thoroughly scrutinize the proposed bill and other related measures before presenting it for plenary deliberations.

Estrada, chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation, noted that Republic Act 11709 became a law during the Duterte administration.

The senator assured the panel's hearing is not aimed at quelling any destabilization plot or downplay alleged unrest within the AFP.

He pointed out the Senate measures proposing amendments to the law were filed last month, or long before reports on alleged rumblings within the AFP came out due to supposed leadership shake-up.

“I would like to disabuse the mind of the public that this is being taken up to quell any destabilization plot or address supposed discord within the military," Estrada said.

"Having been certified as urgent by the President, the Senate is duty-bound to take up the measure for immediate consideration,” the lawmaker added.

Last Dec. 6, 2022, Estrada filed Senate Bill No. 1601 which seeks to amend RA 11709 or the law granting a three-year fixed term for key AFP officials, including the chief of staff.

Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri also filed a similar measure on Dec. 7, 2022.

While the said bills have already been vetted by AFP officials and enlisted personnel, Estrada said senators want to hear or consult other concerned parties in ensuring the need to amend the law that took effect only last year.

“I was not a member of the Senate when this was passed. We will invite the ranking officials to the committee hearing and hear their position or stand on the issue,” the senator said.