Jinggoy Estrada vows to scrutinize bill seeking to remove fixed term for AFP officials

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Sunday assured the public that the Senate will thoroughly scrutinize the bill seeking to remove the fixed term for some Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials.

Estrada — who heads the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation — said this in a statement after announcing that the hearing for the said bill has been set on Jan. 17.

“I would like to disabuse the mind of the public that this is being taken up to quell any destabilization plot or address supposed discord within the military. Having been certified as urgent by the President, the Senate is duty-bound to take up the measure for immediate consideration,” said Estrada.

He then pointed out that the said measure, Senate Bill No. 1601, which Estrada himself also filed, was proposed last month, Dec. 6 — long before reports on the alleged destabilization plot within the AFP.

The said bill seeks to amend Republic Act 11709 or the law granting a three-year fixed term for key AFP officials, including the chief of staff.

It can be recalled that Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri also filed a similar measure on Dec. 7, 2022.

Estrada said that the committee will also consult other concerned parties in ensuring the need to amend the law that took effect only last year.

“I was not a member of the Senate when this was passed. We will invite the ranking officials to the committee hearing and hear their position or stand on the issue,” the senator said.

Aside from the said measure, Estrada’s committee, along with the Committees on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Higher Technical and Vocational Education, and Finance will also take up the proposed bill providing free legal assistance to police, military and other uniformed personnel facing cases related to their service.

Estrada is also due to hold hearings on bills proposing the establishment of the Philippine Air Force Academy (PAFA), an educational institution for instruction and preparation for military service of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) cadets. -Zacarian Sarao/ Inquirer


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