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PNoy vetoes bill on fixed terms for AFP chiefs

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on Friday said he vetoed the bill setting a three-year fixed term for chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
 
"I already sent a message to both chambers (of Congress) that I vetoed  the same (bill on the fixed term of AFP chief)," Aquino said in an interview with reporters after the ceremonial switch-on of the household electrification program in Malacañang.
 
Aquino said the proposal violates Article XVI, Section 5 paragraph 5 of the 1987 Constitution about the retirement of the military officers.
 
“Laws on retirement of military officers shall not allow extension of their service,” the provision states.
 
He said the proposed bill states that the retirement of an AFP chief will be deferred if he has yet to finish the three-year term.
 
“May provision sa bill na nagsasabi na kung hindi nakumpleto yung three years, umabot na yung retirement niya e idedefer yung retirement hanggang sa makumpleto ang term. Paniwala ko parang me violation,” Aquino said.
 
“Ilalagay natin ang sarili natin sa sitwasyon na potentially me violation ng Constitution. Bawal 'yung extensions,” he added.
 
The mandatory retirement age of military officials is 56.
 
"Pag dinefer mo yung retirement, ieextend mo yung services, hindi tama yun," Aquino said.

Professional AFP

At Camp Aguinaldo, military information chief Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said they were respecting the decision of the President, who is also commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and the National Police.

“We will honor and respect the decision of the President... with or without the fixed term, the AFP will continue to work harder to professionalize our ranks and strive to be more efficient, and effective in the performance of our mandate,” Burgos told reporters.

Burgos refused to comment whether the President's move would promote the so-called "revolving door policy" where retiring officers are promoted to the top AFP post.

He, however, said the morale of the troops would not be affected. “That will have no effect on the morale of troops. The state of morale and discipline of the troops remain high.” 
 
Extension of term
 
Under the Constitution, the President may only extend the term of an AFP chief in times of war or other national emergency declared by Congress as stated in paragraph 7, Article XVI, Section 5 of the Constitution.
 
“The tour of duty of the Chief of Staff of the armed forces shall not exceed three years. However, in times of war or other national emergency declared by the Congress, the President may extend such tour of duty,” the provision states.
 
The Senate and House of Representatives ratified their consolidated versions of the bill in October last year. 

The proponents of the bill believed its enactment would end to the "revolving door" policy where soon-to-retire senior military officials were named to the highest post and allowed to serve for only a few months.
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VVP/RSJ, GMA News
 January 20, 2012 11:30am
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