Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Aquino grills candidates for AFP chief

From InterAksyon (Jul 8): Aquino grills candidates for AFP chief

Five generals contending to be chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will face President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday for a final interview before he makes his choice, which is expected to be announced later in the day or on Wednesday.

The five are: Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya, Philippine Air Force chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado, Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, Central Command chief Lieutenant General Nicanor Vivar, and Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Hernando Irriberi.

Visaya and Irriberi belong to Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983, while the rest are members of “Sandigan” Class of 1982.

However, except for Visaya and Vivar, the other aspirants have less than a year before they reach the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Malacanang spokespersons have repeatedly said Aquino prefers younger generals to lead the AFP and Philippine National Police beyond his term, a break from the “revolving door policy” implemented in the past, in which a president would appoint a string of senior officers nearing retirement to head the two organizations.

If Aquino stays true to form, this would give Visaya, who retires in December 2016, and Vivar, in August next year, an edge.

Of the five contenders, Irriberi is saddled with criminal and administrative complaints filed before the Office of the Ombudsman over three ammunition acquisition contractor worth P97.8 million. The complainant, a supplier, has sought his preventive suspension.

Recently, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the dismissal of resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima and former Central Luzon police director Raul Petrasanta, the former for corruption charges over an anomalous courier service contract, the latter over the disappearance of more than a thousand AK-47 assault rifles that ended up in the hands of communist rebels.

Before he was fired, Purisima resigned as head of the PNP after it was learned that he had overseen, despite being suspended at the time, the disastrous January 25 Special Action Force operation that left 44 police commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and three civilians dead in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Both Purisima and Petrasanta, said to be a strong contender to be PNP chief, are known to be close friends of Aquino.

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