By virtue of a technicality, Maj. Gen. Andres Centino – a member of Philippine Military Academy Class ’88 – is now the new commanding general of the Philippine Army (PA).
President Duterte, according to reports, signed the appointment papers of Centino last May 14 as the replacement for Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr.
Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who was designated PA chief last February 2021, was asked to relinquish his post in line with Sec. 4 of Republic Act No. 8186.
Per R.A. 8186, the Army commander must have at least one year remaining in his service tenure on the day he formally assumes office.
Sobejana reportedly said that Faustino didn’t fulfill this requirement because he was appointed to his post last February when he only had less than one year prior to mandatory retirement. Faustino will step down from military service in November 2021.
Centino should be profusely thankful to Sen. Panfilo Lacson for his sudden assumption to the PA’s top position.
Lacson, it was revealed, was responsible for raising this glaring non-compliance with the law during a session of the Commission of Appointments (CA), when he questioned the qualifications of Faustino in regard to R.A. 8186.
But after a lengthy back-and-forth during the CA hearing, Gen. Sobejana was obliged to withdraw his recommendation of Faustino as Army chief since Lacson was insisting on the rigid implementation of the existing law.
“The rule of law applies,” Gen. Sobejana was quoted as saying.