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FIRING LINE: Military needs less drama

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Jose Faustino Jr., former army chief and former defense senior undersecretary and officer-in-charge, has left the Marcos administration on his own terms. Congratulations!

And just like that, Carlito Galvez Jr., former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, former vaccine czar, and former presidential adviser on the peace process, is the new Secretary of the Department of National Defense. Congratulations, too!

The difference between the two outstanding former military generals is that there is less drama with the latter.

*         *         *

Galvez is the epitome of a good soldier — sent to war during the Marawi Siege and saw it through; made vaccine czar and saw it through; named peace adviser and now defense secretary, and even senators like Koko Pimental are saying he’s likely to breeze through the Commission on Appointments because they know he’ll deliver.

I don’t have a crystal ball. But even without it, I can see that Galvez will not abandon his post because it’s a tough job. Neither do I see him resigning because the President is changing his military chief with a new one.

Nevertheless, I understand how Faustino felt: the pain of a bruised ego. Learning “only from news and social media reports that an oath of office of the new Chief of Staff, AFP had taken place at Malacañang” probably left a red mark on his face. The Palace, however, denies this. So now, who’s telling the truth?

*         *         *

Equal praise is due to Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro for retiring with grace and expressing total confidence in the AFP’s ability, integrity, patriotism, and professionalism in his last farewell.

 Well-composed as a true officer and gentleman, Bacarro sheds no hint of controversy within the military or the defense establishment.

He drops no hint of disappointment, displeasure, or failed expectations, even if he is the one man most affected by the exercise of presidential prerogative over the regularity in the application of the new law on the tenure of military chiefs and the traditional vetting done by a panel of generals.

For that, the Filipino nation salutes you, General, for genuinely putting the organization above your own ambition. Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin acknowledges that, too, when he hinted how a man of your mettle may be given another post after your military career.

*         *         *

Although unfortunate for some, the circumstances should never have resulted in any talk of a destabilization plot or restlessness in the uniformed services.

That’s all ego-drama, anyway, and it tarnishes the image of an institution known for the discipline of its extraordinary men and women.

Whatever sad story is written about Faustino having been replaced long ago by Centino as army chief based on a rule or guideline on the appointment of retiring officers; or his non-automatic designation as DND secretary when the restriction date on his appointment as a newly retired military officer had lapsed are, to my mind, of no consequence to any good or bad that befall Bacarro or Centino unless he makes it an issue.

Apparently, he did. And even in Philippine Military Academy (PMA) circles, that’s cringy since Faustino is known to be “mistahs” with Centino and Bacarro in “Maringal” Class of 1988. 

*         *         *

As for the Philippine National Police — which is in the middle of its own cleansing of the ranks — Gen. Rodolfo Azurin is to be commended for abruptly ending the destabilization drama on their side of EDSA.

He announced Tuesday that the source of the disconcerting memo that placed the PNP on full alert status on the false pretext that there was a “resignation of all Department of National Defense (DND) personnel” has been identified and will be facing appropriate charges.

The unsettling memo that mentioned “destabilization movements from the AFP” was purportedly signed by Lt. Col. Dexter Ominga in the Police Regional Office-Cordillera.

He may need a drug test or the pro-forma courtesy resignation letter now being passed around from Camp Crame to third-level officers.

*         *         *

While on that subject, it is true that drug testing has proven that none of the 72 resigned police officers of the National Capital Regional Police Office are using illegal drugs.

However, it doesn’t prove that none of them is in the illegal drugs business, which is the crux of the PNP problem.

Still, that’s a wonderful press release. And Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo knows it!

*         *         *

SHORTBURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https://www.thephilbiznews.com

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