Marcos touts retired generals in Cabinet

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año taking his oath before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has trumpeted the credentials of the appointment of several retired generals to key positions in his Cabinet, including the Department of National Defense and the National Security Adviser.

Speaking to the press en route to Davos, Switzerland to attend the Word Economic Forum on Sunday, Marcos cited newly appointed NSA Secretary Eduardo Año’s “long experience in intelligence.”

“Before he became Chief of Staff, before he became group commander, he was [with] ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines). He’s an expert, he’s well-known, and he knows all of the operatives in the intelligence community,” Marcos told reporters.

Año served as Interior chief of the Duterte administration from November 2018 to June 2022.

He is a veteran intelligence officer who also served as the chief-of-staff of the AFP from December 2016 to October 2017.

He also worked as the vice chairperson of the national task force against Covid-19 of the former administration.

Año replaced retired professor Clarita Carlos, who held the post in the first seven months of the Marcos administration.

Marcos said Carlos decided to join the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives as she found the NSA position a “little bit political.”

“Because she is not really used to politics and she is an academic, a retired academic,” he noted.

On the reappointment of Gen. Andres Centino as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on the other hand, Marcos said this is due to his administration’s move to “rationalize the seniority” of officials.

“Because we are rationalizing the seniority… Andy Centino has four stars and Bob Bacarro had three stars. So we need to fix it because there will be trouble at the bottom,” he pointed out.

“So we looked at the situation, ‘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.”

Centino earlier served as the AFP chief of staff from 12 November 2021 to 8 August 2022, when he was replaced by Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro.

Marcos also pointed out newly appointed DND Secretary Carlito Galvez’s track record in peace and security, a key factor, he said, for his appointment to the post.

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

The President said he also sought the former peace adviser’s assistance in picking the next head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity.

“We’re asking him to make a short list for [OPAPRU]. Because we’re… especially now that the Bangsamoro is in transition… we’re redefining the relationship,” Marcos said.

Galvez, a retired military chief, was former President Rodrigo Duterte’s peace adviser from 2018 until the end of the latter’s presidential term.

From March 2020 to June 2022, Galvez served as the Chief Implementer of the Philippines’ Declared National Policy Against COVID-19 (COVID-19 National Task Force).

In November 2020, he was appointed as the country’s Covid-19 Vaccine czar and was tasked to lead the government’s efforts in bringing into the country a million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

He previously served as AFP Chief of Staff from April to December 2018. His programs centered on putting an end to the decades-long communist insurgency.

Galvez has been well-recognized for his leadership in the government’s fight against terrorist groups, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

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