Philippine military commander replaced by retired general

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shortened the term of the military chief of staff he appointed five months ago on Saturday, replacing him with a retired general without explaining the sudden move. .

Marcos’ office has announced the replacement of Lieutenant General Bartolome Bacalo, who received the highest military award for his combat bravery as a young army officer. A statement late Friday did not specify the reason for the military leadership change. His three-year term as Bacarro he was due to end in August 2025.

The appointment of military commanders is a sensitive issue. The military has a history of defiance, coup attempts, corruption scandals, and has faced accusations of human rights violations. Efforts have been made over the years to isolate the military.

Lieutenant General Andres Centino, the chief of staff Bacarro replaced last August, was appointed by Marcos to the highest post in the 144,000-strong army. Sentino, who was due to retire next month, was selected from among a dozen senior generals to serve a new three-year term.

Asked for his reaction to his dismissal, Bacalo told reporters Friday night without elaborating in a text message that the military would support the new chief.

A new law that came into effect last year fixed the term of office for the military chief of staff to three years, giving the commander-in-chief more time to initiate reforms and push forward with a year-long campaign to modernize the underfunded military. Given more time, it faces Muslim and communist revolts and increasingly aggressive actions. China in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippines claims claims to disputed islands, islets, and coral reefs with other coastal states.

At a changing ceremony at the capital’s main military camp on Saturday, Bacalo handed Centino his saber, a symbol of military leadership, and thanked the military, his family and the president. , attended by his entourage, including Executive Director Lucas Bersamin.

In his speech, Bersamin stressed that he was impressed by the smooth transition of the military leadership, and said politicians should follow suit to avoid the post-election chaos that happened in the United States.

“Continue this tradition of mutual respect and due consideration of the qualifications of fellow officers to make the organization possible … so we can move forward instead of looking back,” Berthamin said. rice field.

Marcos called on him and other key presidential advisers to show the “greatest respect” to Baccaro’s battlefield exploits, and said the general could be given another government post after completing his military career. I hinted at something.

In 1991, Bacalo received the Medal of Valor for thwarting an attack by about 150 communist guerrillas in a town in the northern Philippines. Wounded in his thigh by rebel fire, he robbed a dump truck and crashed into a fence to free government militiamen who had been detained.

His abrupt dismissal came after Marcos’ interior secretary appealed to about 1,000 police chiefs and colonels to resign and allow the commission to conduct an investigation and remove high-ranking officials, followed by National Police Commissioner Rodolfo Azurin Jr. submitted his resignation on Thursday. Involved in illegal drugs.

Azrin called on senior police officers to back Interior Secretary Ben-Hur Avalos’ bold move. Several generals, however, opposed calls to resign within the month because they were not facing criminal charges and were not involved in the drug trade.