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PIA Press Release

Military chief welcomes fixed term

Quezon City (24 November) -- MILITARY Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has welcomed the passage of a bill fixing the term of the head of the Armed Forces to three years, saying it will give his successors a free hand to set long-term goals.

"That is a welcome development for us in the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP]. That [fixed term] is even contained in our proposed National Defense Act," Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo Wednesday.

"You have a term of three years. You are assured of a time plan, to revise your plans, and again to pursue your plans," he said.

On Monday, the bicameral conference committee approved a bill fixing for three years the term of the military chief, and for two years the terms of the commanders of the three major services: the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

The bill is awaiting ratification by both houses of Congress and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's signature before it becomes law. It is expected to take effect upon the retirement.

Asked if the fixed term would end the "revolving door" policy of appointing military commanders, Esperon said: "Let's wait and see, what are the provisions?"

Arroyo, who rose to power on a military-backed popular revolt in 2001, has appointed eight chiefs of staff in six years, most of who were near retirement when they assumed the AFP leadership.

One of Arroyo's former military chiefs, Air Force General Benjamin Defensor, served for only 69 days.

Esperon would have served for 18 months as chief of staff when he retires in February 2008.

Navy Chief Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga will retire in December while Air Force Chief Lieutenant General Jose Reyes and Army Chief Lieutenant General Romeo Tolentino will retire next year. (PIA) [top]

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