Senators back move to amend law setting fixed term for key AFP positions

Some senators have expressed their support for the bill that seeks to amend the law that established a fixed term and retirement age for some officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said a review of Republic Act No. 11709, which was passed into law during the Duterte administration, is necessary in order for the nation to have a secure and stable armed forces.

Go, in his manifestation during the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security’s hearing on the issue on Tuesday, January 17 said the AFP must receive the support that they need and the government must strive to keep up with the proposals and recommendations from the military and other uniformed personnel.

"The purpose of this law is good to ensure continuity in AFP policies and programs. But, like most of our laws, there are birth pains,” said Go, vice chairman of the Senate national defense panel.

"Along the way, several issues came up which may affect the morale of our uniformed personnel. We know that the current situation seems to be getting tighter and having limited positions due to the three-year tour of duty of key positions,” Go pointed out.

"The effect of this can be competition for a position and those who are at the bottom and the juuniors who are still rising lose opportunities," he added.

Other senators who support the bill are Senators Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino.

Tolentino, during the hearing chaired by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, reminded stakeholders that the evolution of the law should always be in accordance with the Constitution.

“Just a reminder to all of us...what we are experiencing is a reminder that the law is not etched in stone, it is evolving, it is in a state of process that should meet the demands and needs of the current period and this is what this hearing is all about,” Tolentino said.

“As long as we abide by the parameters of article 16, section 5 of the Constitution, we are in good hands,” he added.

“I support this initiative as long as it will be for the good of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and our country at large,” Tolentino reiterated.

Estrada, for his part, assured that with the help of the Department of National Defense (DND), the AFP and other agencies, “we shall ensure that this legislation leads to the professionalization, effective operations and fulfillment of the mandate of our Armed Forces.”

Newly-appointed DND chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday, urged senators to help the AFP address the gaps and “unintended consequences” of RA No. 11709’s implementation to address the concerns of those in the military especially the junior officers.

“As the newly-appointed Defense Chief, it is my duty to constructively look out for our troops’ welfare, and one of them is to ensure a level-playing field where cadet advancement is being taken care of, wherein continuity, stability, meritocracy, inclusiveness and sense of kindness will be the highest form of governance,” Galvez told lawmakers during the hearing.