Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Thursday night assured the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of the continued support of the House of Representatives (HOR) for its modernization program to strengthen the country’s pursuit of national peace and stability.
He made the assurance during the HOR-AFP fellowship series (Visayas leg) in Cebu City that was attended by high-ranking military officers led by Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino and other House members.
At the same time, the Speaker said the reconciled bill on the fixed term of the chief of staff and other officers would ensure balance, continuity, and professionalism in the AFP leadership.
“The House of Representatives is committed to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines as it is crucial to our nation’s sovereignty and security,” he told his military audience.
“Our military should be equipped with the latest technological advances and training to respond to the continuing threats that we face,” he said.
He said he was happy to report to them “that we in the House of Representatives have just ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposals to amend RA (Republic Act) 11709, which fixes the terms of military officers.”
The House leader pointed out that the amendatory bill would pave the way for “a regular turnover of leadership, (which) is essential to maintaining a healthy and professional Armed Forces that is accountable to the people it serves.”
“Regular turnover can ensure that new ideas and perspectives are constantly being introduced and that there is a healthy culture of competition and meritocracy within the Armed Forces,” he said.
Under the bill amending RA 11709, the chief of staff would still enjoy a fixed tenure of three years unless sooner replaced by the President, as the current law provides.
However, the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Philippine Military Academy chiefs would have a shorter tour of duty of two years.
The retirement age of AFP personnel would be increased by one year to 57 years.
In his remarks, Speaker Romualdez stressed the role of the AFP in attaining national peace, stability, and prosperity.
“As we all know, peace and stability are crucial to the prosperity of any nation. Without it, social, economic, and political development cannot flourish. And while many factors contribute to peace and stability, a well-functioning and professional Armed Forces is undoubtedly one of the most critical components,” he said.
He also underscored the importance of lawmakers and military and defense establishment leaders getting together to promote closer cooperation among them.
“As we all know, the relationship between the legislature and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is essential to the well-being and security of our nation. In order to strengthen this bond, it is important to engage in activities that promote camaraderie and mutual understanding,” he said.
“By spending time together in these settings, we can build trust, foster understanding and ultimately work together more effectively to serve our nation and its people,” he said.
The Cebu City get-together was a sequel to the HOR-AFP fellowship-Luzon leg held last December.(END)