Press Release
April 4, 2006

Drilon to GMA: Senate has passed bill fixing term of AFP chief in 2005;
urges House to act on it

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon informed Malacañang today that the Senate has passed a bill prescribing a fixed term of office for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff as early as March last year and noted that it was the House of Representatives that has yet to act on its version of the measure.

In a statement, Drilon disclosed that the Senate approved its version of the bill as early as March 7, 2005 when it passed on third and final reading Senate Bill 1862 that mandates a fixed term for the AFP Chief of Staff to promote stability and professionalism within the military establishment.

The bill was transmitted to the House two days later and has not acted on it since, Drilon recalled.

"President Arroyo has been silent on this Senate proposal for some time now which perhaps explains why the House leadership has not acted on the bill. But now that the President has given her go-signal, I suggest the House must act on it with dispatch," said Drilon.

On Monday, Malacañang announced President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was endorsing the proposal setting fixed terms for the military and police top brass to insulate them from political games and maneuvers.

Malacañang said it was now in favor of proposals to give the Armed Forces chief of staff and the Philippine National Police chief fixed terms, even if President Arroyo has had eight AFP chiefs of staff and four PNP chiefs since she took power in 2001, not to mention naming over 50 retired military officers to civilian posts.

Under the Senate bill, Drilon explained, the AFP Chief of Staff shall have a fixed term of three years. The AFP major service commanders shall each have a fixed term of office of two years without prejudice to being appointed as Chief of Staff if qualified, he said.

The bill further provides that no officer shall be appointed as Chief of Staff if said officer has less than one year of service remaining in the active service.

"The so-called revolving-door policy that was adopted by President Arroyo in the appointment of AFP chiefs has turned out to be a bane to the stability of the military establishment," Drilon said. "That policy trivialized and politicized the position of AFP chief of staff. Apparently, the President has learned her lesson the hard way."

In sponsoring the bill on January 19, 2005, Liberal Party Sen. Rodolfo Biazon noted that the bill will provide stability to the leadership of the AFP by fixing the duration of the term of corps leadership so as to ensure continuity and consistency in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs.

The measure will also shield the selection process for such position from too frequent political and personal considerations by ensuring that merit and fitness shall prevail, Biazon added.

Drilon noted the fact that since President Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office in January 2001, the country has had eight AFP chiefs, with terms ranging from two months to just over one year. They are Gen. Angelo Reyes, Gen. Diomedio Villanueva, Gen. Roy Cimatu, Gen. Benjamin Defensor, Gen. Dionisio Santiago, Gen. Narciso Abaya, Gen. Efren Abu and the current AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Generoso Senga.

"The accommodation of retiring generals has become a major consideration in the promotion to the position of the Chief of Staff," Drilon added.

The Senate President noted that the quick turnover in the position of the AFP Chief of Staff did not promote stability in the military. "There is no continuity of policy in the Armed Forces when the Chief of Staff is replaced from time to time. Thats why we are faced with all these coup attempts, because of inconsistency of policies."

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