The powerful Commission on Appointments on Wednesday gave its nod to the ad interim appointment of Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Noel Clement and Philippine Military Academy superintendent Vice Adm. Allan Ferdinand Cusi.
Clement, who formerly headed the Cebu-based Central Command, assumed as AFP chief in late September. He is scheduled to retire in January 2020.
When asked during the hearing about the possible martial law extension in Mindanao that will expire on Dec. 31, 2019, Clement said he did not see it necessary to be extended in the entire region but only in selected areas.
He said the current security situation had improved a lot.
Senator Grace Poe endorsed the appointment of Clement whom she described as “one of the AFP’s best.”
“Here is a steady achiever who excelled at all levels of his military career; a true officer who is well liked by his seniors, peers, and juniors; and a fair leader who took care of his men the same way they took care of their missions,”said Poe.
She noted that Clement’s appointment gives us a seasoned officer with an impressive track record in both field and management positions.
“Gen. Noel Clement is proof that it is indeed quality leadership and not length of command that is the true measure of success as the AFP Chief of Staff,” she added.
As this developed, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros said military men and women are at high risk of mental health problems as they are deployed to combat and disaster-stricken areas and being away from their families for a prolonged period.
In Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Hontiveros said major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder are a growing concern in the military.
“Our soldiers saw and experienced different things during encounters and failures to go home to their families. Their mental health should also be taken care of,” she said.
Hontiveros, who authored the Philippine Mental Health Law signed last year, said that the new law allows for improved facilities, treatment and outpatient care for the mental health of civilians and men and women in uniform alike.
“Improvements can be made in the programs of V. Luna Hospital and field hospitals to cater to the mental health needs of our military men and women”, urged Hontiveros.
“This means more counselors and more mental health professionals in catchment areas,” she added.
The Philippine Mental Health Law author also urged the AFP to devise programs that will address the stigma surrounding mental health.
“I know there is a macho culture in our military. Pero hindi naman siguro nakakabawas sa pagkalalake o pagkatao ang magpatingin at mag-undergo ng treatment para sa mental health,” also said Hontiveros,
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