Estrada files bill limiting the coverage of 3-year fixed term for AFP officials

(MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Jinggoy Estrada has filed a bill seeking to limit the three-year fixed term for officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Estrada said it is imperative to revisit the provisions of Republic Act No. 11709 or the law strengthening the professionalism and promotes the continuity of policies and modernization initiatives in the AFP to make it more responsive to the needs of the country’s military personnel.

Senate Bill No. 1601, or an Act Further Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization Initiatives in the AFP, he said specifically seeks to limit the fixed tour of duty to the AFP chief of staff and the commanding generals of the major services.

The bill also seeks to allow the Department of National Defense (DND) chief, in consulation with AFP officials, “to prescribe the authorized number of officers in the active force in each grade and in each major, technical or administrative service and implement the gradual increase or decrease in the number of officers in each officer rank based on the mission requirement, capabilities, scope of responsibility, technical nature of the position and task.”

The measure also seeks to restore the rule that, except for the Chief of Staff of the AFP, no officer shall be designated to the key positions or promoted to the rank of Brigadier General/Commodore or higher if that officer has less than six (6) months of active service remaining prior to compulsory retirement.

The bill also aims to lengthen the positions of Captain, Major and Lieutenant Coronel and increase the maximum tenure-in-grade for Colonel.

At the same time, the proposed law also seeks to address concerns on the retirement grade provision of RA 11709 together with the measures on pension and retirement for military and other uniformed personnel.

Under the bill, the AFP Chief of Staff, Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy shall have a fixed tour of duty of three (3) consecutive years “unless sooner terminated by the President.”

Also under the bill, the commanding generals or flag officer in command of the major rule shall not be eligible for any other position in the AFP unless promoted to the position of Chief of Staff.

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading its counterpart bill, House Bill No. 6482, last Dec. 6, 2022. -Hannah Torregoza/ Manila Bulletin