Army chief, Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado, yesterday confirmed that he is taking over the Armed Forces of the Philippines command before AFP chief Gen. Alexander Yano retires June 13.
Ibrado said Gen. Yano will be given a position in the government, although he refused to reveal it. “He (Yano) needs to retire early so that his papers will be immediately processed,” Ibrado added.
Yano is supposedly scheduled to retire June 13. Military records show that no AFP chief in recent years has relinquished his position ahead of retirement.
Ibrado who was given recognition by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental for being the first Negrense to be designated AFP chief, during the closing of the week-long Pana-ad Festival Saturday, doused speculations that the early retirement of Yano has something to do with the May elections next year.
“There is no other reason behind it,” Ibrado said, when he was pressed if politics was involved in the early retirement of Yano.
The AFP turnover rites was initially scheduled April 15.
Ibrado, however, said it was again reset to either May 1 or 9, to give time for Yano to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
Initial coordination has already been undertaken between staff officials of the AFP and Philippine Army for the scheduled turnover of command between Yano and Ibrado, both members of the Philippine Military Academy “Magilas” Class of 1976.
Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, commanding general of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, will replace Ibrado as Army chief. He is a member of the PMA Class ’78 where President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an honorary member.
Bangit who is closely identified with Arroyo, served as chief of the Presidential Security Group and Intelligence Service of the AFP. His promotion to Army chief is being seen by the detractors of President Arroyo as prelude to his appointment as AFP chief when Ibrado retires in time for next year’s presidential election.
Upon assumption of his new position as AFP chief, Ibrado said he will continue the programs of his predecessor. “Everything is already there. We just have to implement or execute his plans. If there is a need to change some of it, then we will do that definitely”, he added.
Ibrado is expected to hang his military uniform March 10 next year, upon reaching the mandatory age of retirement, which is 56.
While he has yet to assume the position as AFP chief, Marikina Rep. Ruffy Biazon urged President Arroyo to extend the tenure of Ibrado as Philippine military chief, saying it would be the best if the AFP has stable leadership during the entire election process.
When asked about the proposed extension of his tour of duty, Ibrado, 55, said “ I think that is the decision that will be made by the President herself”.
“As soldiers, we have to follow whatever orders given to us,
Ibrado yesterday also joined the alumni homecoming of the Domingo Lacson National High School in Bacolod City, where he graduated valedictorian in 1971.
While he is happy with his appointment as AFP chief, Ibrado acknowledged that he is faced with a very big task ahead of him, citing the deadline given by President Arroyo for the Philippine military to reduce the New People’s Army to an insignificant level by 2010.
Ibrado rallied the entire AFP to remain focused on the job given to them. “We will do our best to be able to accomplish the task on the date that was set by the President,” he said.
He also pushed for the creation of 12 infantry battalions, composed of 6,000 men, in the AFP.
“The more troops we have, the better for us, because it will provide more presence of soldiers in more places, which also makes our job easier”, Ibrado, in an interview with members of the Negros Defense Press Corps, also said.
Ibrado said the recognition given to him by the provincial government of Negros Occidental “will serve as an added inspiration for me to do my job, the best way I can”. * GPB