DND expresses confidence on Galvez’ leadership; AFP remains ‘focused’ amid rumors of dissent

The Department of National Defense (DND) welcomed on Monday, Jan. 9, the appointment of retired military general Carlito Galvez Jr. as its new head.

President Marcos shakes hand with incoming Defense Sec. Carlito Galvez after the latter accepted the President's offer for the position (Photo courtesy of Presidential Communications Office)

Galvez – who also sits as the concurrent Secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) – replaced Senior Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., who served as the DND Officer in Charge since July 2022.

“With Sec. Galvez’ years of experience as a military commander and as a civilian public servant, we are confident that he will be able to effectively lead the Department as we fulfill our mandates to the nation,” DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the DND also thanked Faustino for leading the agency for six months.

“On behalf of the entire One Defense Team, we express our gratitude to Senior Undersecretary Jose C. Faustino Jr. for his service and leadership. We wish him the best in his endeavors in the next chapter of his life,” Andolong added.

Marcos has accepted the resignation of Faustino as the caretaker of the DND, and designated Galvez as his replacement, according to Presidential Communications Operations Officer in Charge Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil.

Galvez served as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in 2018 during the previous Duterte administration.

Among his notable achievements was the retake of the Marawi City from the terrorists during the 2017 seige as the commander of the regional military unit there, the Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM).

After his retirement in December 2018, Galvez was appointed as the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) in 2020 and led the national vaccination campaign.

The OPAPRU has yet to issue a statement on the appointment of Galvez and his replacement.

AFP morale

Despite the change in the leadership at the DND and questions on the morale of the troops, the 150,000-strong AFP remained “focused” in fulfilling their mission to protect the nation and the Filipino people.

This was emphasized by Col. Medel Aguilar, AFP spokesperson, moments after the Palace announced the resignation of Faustino. The AFP is one of the major bureaus of the DND.

“Our troops are focused on the mission assigned to them,” Aguilar told the Manila Bulletin.

The announcement on the resignation of Faustino came two days after a supposed memorandum order said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) was placed on full alert status due to “destabilization movements from the AFP.”

While the PNP denied the existence of the memo, rumors about the resignation of Faustino and several other leaders of the defense department were not fully addressed by the DND.

Former senator and retired police general Panfilo “Ping” Lacson reportedly stated that the resignation of Faustino could have been triggered by the removal of newly retired Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as the AFP Chief of Staff.

Bacarro was replaced by Gen. Andres Centino, a general who had also served as AFP chief under the previous Duterte administration, in a Change of Command ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City last Saturday. Faustino was visibly absent in the time-honored military tradition.

“There is information though that OIC and Senior DND Undersecretary Faustino mentioned to some close associates as early as last month that he will resign if Lt. Gen. Bacarro will be replaced. That could have probably triggered the rumored ‘mass resignation’ in the DND,” Lacson was quoted as saying.

Faustino, Bacarro, and Centino are all members of the Philippine Military (PMA) “Maringal” Class of 1988.

Aside from the change of guards at the AFP, the DND also has yet to address another rumor that Faustino’s resignation was caused by his failure to secure a permanent designation as DND Secretary despite the lapse of the one-year ban for retired military officials from holding government office.

The ban for Faustino, who retired as AFP Chief in November 2021, lapsed late last year.