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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, March 8, 2011
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Oban vows AFP reforms

MANILA – Newly-designated Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban said he is running against time to implement reforms in the scandal-wracked AFP that he described as a "big challenge" for him.

Oban said reforms in the 130,000-strong AFP will be given top priority during his watch, and this includes transparency in the procurement process and strengthening of internal checks and balances to prevent any attempts at corruption.

Oban, who used to be the AFP deputy chief of staff and the third highest ranking AFP military official before his appointment, said he is not new to the job, because he has been into the group for several months now.

He said he will give a time frame for military commanders and staff to accomplish the programs he envisions, before he retires in December this year. Oban, an Air Force officer, also said he will introduce a long term program for the AFP, which he hopes to also be implemented by his successors.

Oban said he will pursue the much-delayed AFP Modernization Program and the Internal Peace and Security Plan.

President Benigno Aquino III, in his speech during the installation of Oban at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, said he expects Oban to continue the reforms started by outgoing AFP chief Ricardo David.

Aquino said David is leaving the military service after bringing back the trust and confidence of the public in the AFP, with soldiers responding to emergency situations and calamities.

He said his administration will never adopt a “revolving door policy" in appointing AFP chiefs of staff.

The revolving door policy for AFP chiefs, a practice of the previous administrations, had the most senior military official appointed chief of staff as he neared retirement age.

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has appointed at least 11 such AFP chiefs, most of them serving for less than a year.

“Regardless of who it is, there has to be continuity in the implementation of the policy,” Aquino said.

Meanwhile, Army Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz yesterday said he has no regrets that he declined to be a contender for AFP chief.

He said, “This spared President Aquino and the military organization from the much-criticized rotating door policy in the AFP.”

"I have always felt that what is best overall is where personal interest is subservient to the greater interest of the (AFP) organization," he said.

During his interview with President Aquino on Jan. 24, which was also attended by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and former AFP chief Ricardo David, Ortiz said he told the President that he is happy as commanding general of the Philippine Army and would pursue his plans for the Army, before he retires in November.

He added that Oban, who had been serving as the AFP deputy chief of staff, is already familiar with the position given to him, being the third highest military official in the Armed Forces.

He  said Oban, who was his classmate at the Philippine Military Academy, is best qualified for the position, and cited his outstanding credentials and performance as an Air Force officer.*GPB




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