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Thursday, May 08, 2008

 

Esperon to revamp top brass

By Jefferson Antiporda, Reporter

The Armed Forces chief, Gen. Hemogenes Esperon Jr., on Wednesday disclosed that there will be changes from top to bottom in the military during the second half of the year. He is set to retire from the service this month.

Esperon, however, assured that despite the planned changes, there will be no let-up in military operations and that the Armed Forces will continue to improve its performance with the new set of officers.

“But you will see how the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] works even with the changes,” he said after a turnover where Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna succeeded Lt. Gen. Antonio Romero 2nd as Vice Chief of Staff.

Romero is set to retire on June 25. He will be taking leave of absence on May 8.

Romero is expected to given a post at the Department of National Defense either as assistant secretary or undersecretary, and will be handling modernization affairs. His new job, he said, will just be a continuation of his former job as the chairman of the Armed Forces Capability Development Board.

“There is an offer [at the Defense department] but it has to be approved by the President [Gloria Arroyo],” Romero told reporters.

He said his new assignment will depend on the recommendation of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro.

Several commands will also undergo leadership changes including the Army, Esperon said.

Among those that will be affected, he added, are the National Capital Region Command, headed by Maj. Gen. Fernando Mesa, and Maj. Gen. Armando Cunanan, who heads the Eighth Infantry Division. Both are also retiring in June.

“Many reassignments have been approved, but there will be ensuing vacancies that have to be occupied,” Esperon said.

On Tuesday, Teodoro announced the approval of appointments of six senior military officers to key positions, upon the recommendation of the Armed Forces Board of Generals.

The appointments included those of Luna and Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Maclang, who will be designated as the new Armed Forces deputy chief of staff. Maclang’s post as Northern Luzon Command chief, will be assumed by Maj. Gen. Isagani Cachueta.

Lt. Gen. Pedro Insierto will be the new chief of the Armed Forces Central Command; Maj. Gen. Armando Cunanan, the chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command; and Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado, the new Philippine Army chief replacing Gen. Alexander Yano, who will replace Esperon.

Also on Tuesday, the military chief of staff swore in Maj. Gen. Delfin Bangit as the new commander of the Southern Luzon Command. Bangit was the former head of the Presidential Security Group.

No apologies

As Esperon ends his service in the military, he said he sees no reason to apologize to the public as demanded by 28 military officers who are facing a court-martial for their involvement in the failed February 2006 coup attempt.

“Why should I apologize? I will [still] do the same, confine them [to detention] if they do such things. We simply have to enforce the rules and regulations,” he said, reacting to the statement of the 28 officers that was posted on the Internet.

The officers facing trial said in the statement that Esperon should ask forgiveness from Filipinos and from the members of the Armed Forces for “prostituting” the organization.

“We might consider pardoning Mr. Esperon for the crime he committed in the 2004 elections as long as he shows remorse and is willing to face the criminal and military justice system,” the statement said.

The 28 officers, 27 of whom were arraigned on Tuesday, include former Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, former Scout Rangers chief Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, and Col. Ariel Querubin.

“I do not know if they have to apologize for bringing in so much trouble and for the instability that they caused for doing their actions. Anyway that is now subject to court proceedings, so let us see who should, who is guilty [and] who is not,” Esperon said.

   

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Severino O. Frayna Jr., Benjie Dela Rosa
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