Marcos Explains New Appointments Amid Destabilization Rumors
President Marcos departs from Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023 to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR


ON BOARD PR 001 – President Marcos explained his surprising decision to reinstate Gen. Andres Centino as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), revealing that the move was meant to address some concerns and lift the morale of military officers.

Earlier this month, Centino took his oath as military chief, replacing Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, who had succeeded him last August.

Rumors of a military destabilization plot swirled following the unusual change in the AFP leadership, but officials dismissed these as “misinformation.”

In a media interview en route to Switzerland on Monday, Jan. 16, Marcos said Centino’s reinstatement as AFP chief was meant to “rationalize” the seniority in the military.

“Andy Centino has four stars and Bob Bacarro had three stars. So we needed to fix it so there would be no distortions in the lower levels,” the President said, admitting that there were lower ranking military officers who felt that they would no longer have a chance to be promoted because of term extensions.

“So there were some comments that were made, what if there are extensions? ‘We in the lower ranks will no longer have a chance?’” Marcos said.

“That’s not right. Their morale will be low. So we had to look into it. ‘What do you want us to do?’ We asked the military and I said, ‘We will fix the seniority’ and that’s what we’ve done,” he added.

Peace adviser

Marcos said experience was also the factor behind the appointment of former peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. as his new defense secretary.

Galvez, who served as peace adviser and COVID-19 vaccine czar of former president Rodrigo Duterte, replaced Jose Faustino Jr., who resigned from the post this month.

“Very, very experienced and in fact as soon as he (Galvez) took his oath… he knew already what to do. He held a command conference. So I think he’ll slide into that position really easily,” the President said.

Marcos said he is still looking for a new peace adviser. “Charlie Galvez will certainly be important. We’re asking him to make a short list for OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)… especially now that the Bangsamoro is in transition… We’re redefining the relationship,” he said. “That’s why it’s very critical that we have a good person in OPAPP who can continue with the work that Charlie Galvez did.”

Asked if he intends to appoint a full-time agriculture secretary, Marcos, who also serves as the agriculture chief, replied: “When this is fixed, when we have the systems in place, yes.”

New security adviser

Marcos also explained his decision to appoint former interior secretary Eduardo Año as his new national security adviser.

According to him, former national security adviser Clarita Carlos found the position to be a little bit political. “She is not used to it and she is an academic, a retired academic,” the President said.

Marcos said he tapped Año as his new security adviser because of his background in intelligence gathering. “He has a long experience in intelligence. Before he became (AFP) chief of staff, before he became group commander, he was (chief of the) ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said. “He is very experienced and he’s well-known and he knows all of the operatives in the intelligence community.”

Carlos admitted on Monday that she decided to quit her post because of forces that kept working toward unseating her. Without elaborating as to who or what these forces were, she said she voluntarily stepped down to give the President the leeway to let her go.

“The decision to let me go was a difficult one. I understood him so I gave him a way. I said Mr. President that matter is easy, I will just leave,” she told Teleradyo on Monday.

“I am happy that I will move to a job that is my expertise,” Carlos added, referring to her new job at the House of Representatives think tank Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department.

Last week, Carlos told an interview with “The Chiefs” over One News that she too was kept in the dark on the controversial resignation of Faustino at the DND and the sudden appointment of Centino as AFP chief of staff. – With Michael Punongbayan