Guerrero is ‘leading contender’ to replace Año – Lorenzana
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to appoint a general based in his hometown Davao City to replace Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año, who will retire early to lead the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Lieutenant General Rey Guerrero, chief of the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), is the top contender, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“He is the leading contender. He has the trust and confidence of the President,” Lorenzana told Rappler.
The change of command ceremony is scheduled on the first week of June, according to Rappler sources. Camp Aguinaldo has been told to prepare.
As Eastmincom chief, Guerrero has been at the forefront of military operations against the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
He belongs to the Army Special Forces and was previously assigned to the Presidential Security Group under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
6-month terms for Duterte’s AFP chiefs
Guerrero’s appointment will mean that both the military and the police will be led by generals close to Duterte.
He will be the 3rd AFP chief under Duterte, all of them with very short terms of 6 months. Año, who was appointed in December 2016, was supposed to retire in October yet, but his term will be cut short following the President's decision to name him interior and local government chief. His predecessor, Ricardo Visaya, also served for 6 months.
A 1984 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Guerrero is scheduled to retire in December 2017, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
In his speech in Camp Aguinaldo, Duterte promised he will not tinker with promotions in the military.
Año also served Davao region when he was chief of the 10th Infantry Division. But his headquarters was in Compostela Valley and he was not as close to Duterte.
Año’s early retirement
Año is supposed to serve until October 26, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age. He reportedly asked to be allowed to finish his term, but Duterte wanted him to assume the DILG post as soon as possible.
“I might retire early. The earliest could be June. Meanwhile my focus is still on my current job as chief of staff of the AFP. I still have lots of work to do at the AFP,” Año told Rappler.
Lorenzana is all praises for Año. He said he is sad to lose him as AFP chief because he did good work in his post.
Under Año’s leadership, the military scored victories against the Abu Sayyaf Group with the deaths of a number of key leaders.
Año set a self-imposed deadline to significantly damage the capability of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group by June 30. – with reports from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com