MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr yesterday cut short the term of the military chief of staff he appointed five months ago and replaced him with a retiring general without explaining the surprise move.
Marcos office announced the replacement of Lieutenant general Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, who had received the highest military award for combat bravery as a young army officer. A statement on late Friday that did not specify any reason for the change in military leadership.
Bacarro’s three-year term was supposed to end in August 2025.
The appointment of military chiefs is a sensitive issue. The military has a history of restiveness, failed coup attempts, corruption scandals and has faced accusations of human rights violations.
Efforts have been made for years to instill professionalism in the military and insulate it from the country’s traditionally chaotic and corruption-tainted politics.
Lieutenant General Andres Centino, the military chief of staff who Bacarro replaced in August last year, was installed by Marcos to the top post of the 144,000-strong armed forces.
Centino, who was due to retire next month, was chosen over a dozen senior generals and will have a fresh three-year term.
Asked for reaction on his removal, Bacarro told reporters without elaborating on Friday night in a text message that the military would support the new chief.
A new law that took effect last year fixed the term of the military chief of staff to three years to allow a top general more time to initiate reforms and press a years long campaign to modernise an underfunded military.
In a turnover ceremony at the main military camp in the capital yesterday, Bacarro handed a saber symbolising military leadership to Centino and thanked the military, his family and the president.