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New law strengthens professionalism in the AFP

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A new law that addresses retirement issues in the Armed Forces of the Philippines was signed into law by President Marcos on May 17, 2023.

Republic Act (RA) No. 11939 was crafted to further strengthen professionalism and promote continuity of policies and modernization initiatives in the AFP. In particular, it amended the compulsory retirement age and the fixed terms set for its officers and personnel stipulated in RA 11709, signed in April 2022—provisions that triggered rumblings within the military organization. The military said some provisions of RA 11709 impeded career advancement of officers and men.

Under the new law, the AFP chief of staff will serve a maximum tour of duty of three consecutive years, starting on the date his appointment paper is signed, unless sooner terminated by the President.
It also sets the tenures of office for all other officers.

Officers holding key positions in the AFP—the commanding generals of the Philippine Army and the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Navy flag officer-in-command, and the Philippine Military Academy superintendent—will serve a maximum of two consecutive years. But they are not eligible for any position in the AFP unless promoted to chief of staff.

Officers in the grades of general/flag officer or higher—general/admiral (O-10), lieutenant general/vice admiral (O-9), and major general/rear admiral (O-8)—will have a maximum tenure of three years, and five years for brigadier general/commodore (O-7).

The new law also sets maximum tenures for the following—colonel/captain (PN) (O-6), 10 years; lieutenant colonel/commander (PN) (O-5), seven years; major/lieutenant commander (PN) (O-4), six years; and captain/lieutenant (PN) (O-3), six years.

But the President may lengthen the tenure-in-grade of officers in the permanent grades of captain, major, and lieutenant colonel, or their equivalent, up to two promotional cycles when necessary “to maintain the desirable officer rank structure and uphold the progressive professional development of the officer corps.”

To be eligible for appointment or promotion to the rank of brigadier general/commodore (O-7) or higher, the officer must have at least one year remaining of active service before the compulsory retirement.
Under the new law, second lieutenant/ensign (O-1) to lieutenant general/vice admiral (O-9) are compulsorily retired at age 57 or upon accumulation of 30 years of satisfactory active duty, whichever comes later.
The AFP chief of staff and those occupying the key positions will also be retired upon completion of their tour of duty or upon relief by the President.
The AFP welcomed the approval of the new law.

“We believe that the changes will further strengthen professionalism in the military and ensure the continuity of programs while maintaining the AFP’s dynamic and progressive promotion system,” said Col. Medel Aguilar, AFP spokesperson.

We laud Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—for immediately coming up with a new law to address the concerns of the officers and men of the AFP about RA 11709, which was enacted 12 months ago.

Quick response is necessary to address legitimate concerns before these are blown out of proportion.

May this new law serve as an inspiration to all the officers and men of the AFP in the performance of their sworn duty.


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