Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced on Friday that Año will step down from his post on June 2, after President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed his plea to extend the tenure of the AFP chief. He was supposed to retire on Oct. 26, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Duterte earlier announced that the AFP chief would be the next secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
According to talk in military circles, Año’s early retirement was to give way to Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, chief of the Davao-based Eastern Mindanao Command who is reportedly close to the President and his family. But Guerrero would only be able serve for six months, as he would reach the mandatory retirement age in December.
Duterte once promised that he would never dabble on promotions and assignments in the military, and let the Board of Generals do its job.
“Of the many things I promised the people of this nation, one was that I would not tinker with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the matter of promotion and assignments,” he said in his speech when Año assumed as AFP chief last December.
“I never asked or whispered to anybody, who, for what, and for whom. I kept my promise to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and it will remain to be so until the end of my term. Hindi ako makikialam. As I have said it’s with your Board of the Generals,” he also said.
“Alternative” or “rogue” Twitter accounts supposedly ran by government workers sprang up when US President Donald Trump assumed office and local versions immediately followed. They were set up on the premise that those behind it would’t be identified in case of retaliation for speaking freely.
INQUIRER.net had not been able to verify the people behind the ALT Team AFP account.
The account was registered on March 2017 and had been tweeting about the plans to cut Año’s term as early as then.
“Last night, SND Lorenzana requested you to extend Gen. Año’s term and let him retire on his 56th birthday. He did so because that’s what every soldier wants but you refused,” @altTeamAFP posted on Twitter shortly after Lorenzana’s announcement during the closing of Balikatan exercises.
“We took an oath to defend this country and our constitution, that oath does not include kowtowing to any Commander in Chief’s personal interests,” it added.
“Before we became soldiers, we know that we will de for and that knowledge and has remained the same in all the years we have served under different Commanders in Chief. YOU ARE NOT ABOVE THAT SOLEMN OATH,” it also said.
The ALT Team AFP also brought up Duterte’s “failed” promises of double salary and pistols, as well as his warm ties with China.
“Now you want to supply us with substandard China-made arms and defense equipment. That is on top of your treacherous deals with China and your exclusive foreign policy that makes us slaves to Chinese loans and their continued incursion in our maritime territory,” it said.
The AFP, meanwhile, disowned the ALT Team AFP account.
“#AltTeamAFP is not a recognized, official and legit Twitter account of the AFP,” Brig. Gen. Restitutoo Padilla, AFP spokesperson, said. “It does not reflect the official stand of the organization nor the senitiments of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilian personnel.”
“The public is forewarned and advised to be wary of this malicious account and refer only to the official website and social media account of the AFP for factual news and forces,” he added. –Frances Mangosing /atm
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