Defense chief orders reinstatement of 2 generals linked to UP red-tagging mess

Robie de Guzman   •   March 23, 2021   •   461

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has ordered the re-designation of two military generals linked to the publication of an erroneous list that red-tagged some alumni of the University of the Philippines (UP).

In a statement, Lorenzana said that Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations (J7) Major General Benedict Arevalo and AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence (J2) Major General Alex Luna “were not directly responsible” for the fiasco.

“I have exhaustively reviewed the case involving Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo and Maj. Gen. Alex Luna. From the reports submitted to me, I believe that both men were not directly responsible for the lapse over the publication of the unverified and unofficial list of UP students who have been linked to left-leaning groups,” he said.

Arevalo took a leave of absence after his office shared the list on social media in January. Luna, on the other hand, was ordered relieved by Lorenzana over the mistake, which the defense chief described as an “unpardonable gaffe.”

“Having said this, I have requested that the AFP reinstates Maj. Gen. Arevalo and Maj. Gen. Luna to their previous commands, but with a stern warning that similar incidents cannot and should not happen again in the future,” Lorenzana said.

The DND chief, however, said that he is “not completely clearing them of liability,” and that they were punished under the principle of command responsibility.

“Their track records would show that they have always performed their duties conscientiously and competently,” he said.

“Naniniwala ako sa second chances, lalo na kung nadamay lang naman sila sa pagkukulang at pagkakamali ng iba. Bigyan natin sila ng panibagong pagkakataon na patunayan ang kanilang katapatan sa kanilang tungkulin,” he added.

DND to improve bill seeking to reform uniformed personnel pension system

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday said it will conduct a study and further deliberations to fine-tune the proposed measure seeking to reform the pension system for the military and uniformed personnel (MUP).

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the current MUP pension system being subsidized by the government will become “unsustainable in the near future as it will become a huge burden to our taxpayers.”

“It is time to revisit the pension system with the objective of generating and maintaining a self-sustaining fund that would totally or partially unburden the government financially,” Lorenzana said.

“A careful study of our fiscal situation, gathering of suggestions from concerned stakeholders especially in our Armed Forces, and further deliberations will be undertaken and considered to fine-tune the proposed bill,” he added.

The Defense chief said that looking after the welfare of Filipino soldiers is one of the DND’s key mandates, and that these include ensuring that they receive the appropriate retirement benefits that are due them for their years of honorable and dedicated service.

“Sinisiguro namin na pangunahin sa ating prayoridad sa ating pakikipag-usap sa mga mambabatas ay ang kapakanan ng ating mga retirees,” Lorenzana said.

The proposed MUP pension reform bill is still pending in Congress.

The House ad hoc committee on military and uniformed personnel pension system recently approved the amended substitute bill proposing reforms for the said pension system.

The proposed measure seeks to remove the automatic indexation system that pegs the amount of pension received by retirees to the current salaries of active personnel.

The bill also includes a provision of cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to ensure that monthly pensions remain on track with changes in prices and the adjustment of pensionable age to 60 years old.

The measure likewise proposes to provide higher risk insurance coverage for wounded, injured, and killed in action (on top of legislated benefits), optional retirement after 20 years but eligible only for non-pension benefits; pension eligibility begins at 60, among others.

House panel chair Albay Rep. Joey Salceda earlier warned that the MUP pension system could face an “existential threat” unless reforms are implemented due to unfunded reserve deficit amounting to P9.6 trillion.

DPWH, DND inaugurate hospital facility, barracks at Camp Aguinaldo

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with the Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday (June 17) inaugurated the new military facilities at Camp Aguinaldo.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar with DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana led the inauguration and handover ceremony of a four-storey male and female enlisted personnel barracks building and two-storey hospital facility at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo Station Hospital.

The P63.7 million barracks facility will provide enlisted military personnel a safe and secure accommodation or billeting place for troops essential to mission accomplishment. Meanwhile, the hospital facility has 25 beds for emergency services and inpatient care as well as pharmacy, in-house laboratory, and imaging.

The hospital will also be used as the primary health care facility of Camp Aguinaldo for officers, enlisted personnel, civilian human resource.

Secretary Villar said that being in the frontline in protecting the country, the two departments want nothing but the best for the armed forces. AAC

AFP, UN sign strategic plan to protect children in armed conflict

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United Nations (UN) have signed a strategic plan to protect children in armed conflict.

In a statement on Thursday (June 10), AFP Chief  Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the AFP shall ensure to maintain professionalism and discipline in conducting daily operations. He also said the AFP will aim to strengthen the protection of children in armed conflict and prevent grave child rights violations.

“We shall guarantee that all our personnel are properly educated and trained, to raise their awareness, and for a deeper sense of respect and regard to the promotion and protection of Human Rights in particular, to children’s rights, and adherence to International Humanitarian Law,” he said.

Under the “Strategic Plan to Prevent and Respond to Grave Child Rights Violations in Situations of Armed Conflict”, the AFP should fully comply with its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The Strategic Plan was signed by Sobejana along with UN resident coordinator and co-chair of UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (UN-CTFMR) Gustavo Gonzales, and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov on Wednesday (June 9). AAC


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