MANILA, Philippines – The deliberation of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) centered on the very short term of General Leonardo Guerrero as the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
General Guerrero was appointed on the 25th of October and is set to retire on the 17th of this month.
San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora has expressed regret over veteran military officials who retire at the age of 56. The retirement age of military officials in the Philippines is younger than in the United States where Army officials serve until they reach 60 years old.
“Why are we retiring somebody as senior, as experienced as our new Chief of Staff,” Zamora said.
“Granting that I will be retired come December 17, I will just have to complete the tasks that are given to me,” Guerrero said.
The lawmakers plan to amend the law on the mandatory retirement age of officials of the AFP as well as of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
After the hearing, the CA immediately approved the appointment of General Guerrero including 41 General/Flag and senior officers of the AFP.
In line with the government operations against terrorists, the AFP Chief of Staff said the military will become harder on its offensive against the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) which has been recently declared as a terrorist group.
“Through the branding or labeling of terrorism, we will be able to resort to the law applying to terrorism. Therefore expect that we could impose harsher penalties against this lawless elements,” General Guerrero said.
General Guerrero also noted the military is now looking into other groups who possibly support the communist rebels.
“Because our intent here is to defeat the NPAs, the armed group. But of course, we have to look also into their support system,” Guerrero added.
Despite this, some Senators believe the hope for the continuation of the peace talks should remain.
“We have to try harder. We cannot give up on the peace process to keep us on high moral and political ground, not for the sake of the government or the rebel forces, but for the sake of the people who continue to be caught in the crossfire,” Sen. Gringo Honasan said.
“I am hoping that this is just a position or negotiation tactic of the government because in the end, we still want to pursue the peace negotiations. This is despite the difficulty, no matter how long the road will be,” Sen. Chiz Escudero said. – Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue
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