Faustino claims last to know of AFP changes, Palace says not true
At least nine officials of the Department of National Defense — five undersecretaries and four assistant secretaries — have also quit their posts following the resignation of acting Defense Secretary Jose Faustino Jr., DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said Tuesday.
Faustino, for his part, disclosed yesterday that he resigned from his post after learning about the leadership change in the Armed Forces of the Philippines only in the news and on social media — a claim that the Palace immediately denied.
“The President as the Commander-in -Chief has the sole prerogative to appoint the AFP Chief of Staff. According to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, former DND OIC Jose Faustino Jr. knew of the developments with regard to the appointment of Gen. Andres Centino, who is the only 4-star general in the AFP,” the Palace said in a statement released by Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil.
Faustino said he submitted his irrevocable letter of resignation to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday — the same day that the reappointment of Centino as AFP chief of staff was announced.
Noting how the AFP has transformed into an institution that the Filipino people can trust over the years, Faustino said: “Fully cognizant of the selfless sacrifice and courage of our troops and civilian human resources, I cannot allow the AFP’s reputation to be tarnished, maligned, or politicized.”
“I assure everyone that I will always hold the AFP in high esteem, which its men and women have painstakingly earned,” he added.
Since the resignation of Faustino, who himself is a former AFP chief of staff, Mr. Marcos has appointed Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr. as Defense secretary.
Andolong, for his part, said the resignation of other high-ranking Defense officials is “normal.”
“All those part of the team brought by General Faustino resigned. It is customary, part of procedure for them as coterminous officials,” he said.
Destabilization rumors swirled over the weekend following the replacement of Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro as AFP chief. One alleged memo from the Philippine National Police Caraga statement said the PNP was on full alert status “in view of the resignation of Department of National Defense personnel.”
Both the military and the police denied there was a destabilization plot even as the PNP said it has already identified the sources of the fake memo that circulated on social media.
Meanwhile, at least three senators on Tuesday expressed confidence that Galvez will easily get the nod of the powerful Commission on Appointments.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator JV Ejercito said the record of Galvez as a military man is solid.
“I dont think he will have a problem with CA,” Ejercito said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said the appointment of Galvez was a welcome development, noting that the latter has also proven his mettle as National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar.
“This move by the President, hopefully, will somehow give a sense of stability insofar as the leadership in the DND and its attached agencies/organizations are concerned,” Estrada said.
In Cotabato, Bangsamoro officials welcomed the appointment of Galvez.
Education Minister Mohaguer Iqbal said Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim believes Galvez “will excel in this new position and that we are excited to see what he will have to achieve in the coming years.”
Iqbal said Galvez’s “deep understanding of the context and challenges of the Bangsamoro and (having established) good relations with the MILF has brought us nearer to the goal of peace in the Bangsamoro.”