Senate ratifies bill fixing AFP officers' tour of duty
The Senate ratified on Wednesday the bicameral conference committee report on the reconciled version of the bill prescribing the retirement age of 57 for military officers and enlisted personnel.
The third measure to be passed by the Senate under the present 19th Congress retained the three-year maximum tour of duty for the AFP Chief of Staff provided under Republic Act 11709, unless sooner terminated by the President.
The commanding generals of the three major services - the commanding generals of the Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force; and the flag officer in command of the Philippine Navy -- and the superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) will retire upon completion of their maximum tour of duty of two consecutive years or upon the relief of the President.
"We have come up with a balancing act, providing a measure that will maximize the tour of duty of the AFP Chief of Staff and other key officers but which can be terminated by the President. This is perceived as the best option to address the unintended consequences of the relatively new law on the fixed tour of duty of high-ranking key military officers," Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said, referring to RA 11709 which provides for the fixed term of duty of high-ranking key military officers, also known as the Act Strengthening Professionalism in the AFP.
"This is a product of a series of public hearings, consultation with the AFP officers, regular communications with high ranking military officials, and the Defense Department, and extensive deliberations of the members of the Senate," Estrada, principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1849, said.
The chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security said the upper chamber endeavored to remain consistent with the intent and objectives of RA 11709 further strengthening professionalism and continuity of policies and modernization initiatives in the AFP, while addressing the sources of grumblings and unintended consequences created by the implementation of the law, specifically on career progression and advancement of the military personnel.
"After two days of floor debates in the Senate and more than four hours of grueling bicameral conference committee deliberations, we managed to come up with the best version of the amendments to RA 11709 to ensure that our AFP will be a dynamic and fully responsive organization, consistent with its constitutional mandate of being the protector of the people and the State, and securing the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory," Estrada said.
Prior to the enactment of RA 11709, the AFP Chief of Staff had no definite or fixed term. Under RA 8186, the first law to determine and provide the percentage for the distribution of generals in the AFP, the mandatory retirement age of 56 years old is imposed on the chief of staff and all uniformed Armed Forces members.
The measure, which will be known as "An Act Further Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization Initiatives In the Armed Forces of Philippines, and Amending for this purpose RA No. 11709," shall apply to officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP, also to those appointed and or promoted under RA 11709 and other pertinent laws. Senate of the Philippines