Messy ‘revolving door’ retirement policy
Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero retired last April 18 after serving only 174 days as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This is another example of a “revolving door” in a long series of short-term assignments in key positions in the armed services.
Once again, columnist Ramon J. Farolan, a former commanding general of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), appealed to the commander in chief to review the “revolving door” policy as this is detrimental to the efficiency and effectiveness of promoting professionalism in the officer corps of the armed services (“‘Revolving door’ of the Armed Forces,” 4/16/18).
Unfortunately, the retirement of officers at age 56 is in accordance with the law and while the president has prerogative in extending officers’ retirement, it is seldom applied. Of late, only Ronald dela Rosa of the Philippine National Police has been extended for a few months. Since the ages of officers are only months apart, they are therefore retired months part. Hence the “revolving door” policy exists.
The present retirement law was promulgated years ago as recommended by Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates who, at that time,
were retiring in their late 40s or early 50s after serving 30 years.
It is therefore necessary to revise the present retirement law but through the years other problems have developed that they should be part of the new law. These are:
The first pertains to Cadet Jaywardene Hontoria and others like him. He graduated from the PMA at the top of his class last March and earned most of the awards. But he was 25 years old. This means that he will retire in 2049 at age 56 after he shall have served 31 years. Will he become chief of staff? Not likely because he will retire ahead of the 21-year-old graduates in 2015, 2016, 2017, and his own classmates who were younger than he was at graduation.
The second pertains to the K-to-12 education system whose first batch graduated in 2018. High school graduates of K-to-12 are two years older than those who graduated before 2018. Some will become officers of the AFP and will render two years less in service. Will this case be a better system?
The third pertains to the armed services officers who came from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), and there are many of them. They retire two years ahead of PMA graduates at their level. Why? College graduates from civilian schools receive their commissions two years after their contemporaries from the PMA. This is the reason why there are no ROTC graduates who occupy key positions in the AFP.
The fourth is bigotry among PMA graduates. Because of bigotry, there is no air force or naval academy. While there are commissioning schools in the Philippine Navy and the PAF, the resulting output are college graduates who are not the best, unlike graduates of the PMA who were selected from the best. The academies are needed to recruit the best of the youth who will be the mainstay of the operation and maintenance of the expensive aircraft and ships. Had the air and naval academies been created 50 years ago, we would find those graduates in the leadership of the aviation and maritime industries similar to PMA graduates now occupying high positions in government.
ANTONIO E. SOTELO, retire lieutenant general, AFP
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