While Congress has the power to amend any law, I do not see the wisdom or logic in amending Republic Act 11709, a new law which has not been tested yet.
In fact, the final version is generally the same as the original legislative proposal submitted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Department of National Defense, with some amendments of course.
Further, the implementing rules and regulations crafted by the former DND officials led by ex-OIC Jose Faustino Jr. do not conform with the provisions of the law, which I sponsored and co-authored in the Senate.
First, the Philippine National Police already clarified last weekend the reason for its supposed heightened alert status – it was for another purpose, not related to any destabilization or the rumored “mass resignation” of DND officials which as it turned out is just that – rumor.
Department of National Defense OIC Jose Faustino Jr., newly designated AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino and newly retired Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, along with two or three DND undersecretaries, all belong to PMA Class 1988. Even among PMA batchmates, sometimes there are dynamics due to personal associations and loyalties that cannot be avoided. There is information though that OIC and Senior DND Undersecretary Faustino mentioned to some close associates as early as last month that he will resign if Lt. Gen. Bacarro will be replaced. That could have probably triggered the rumored “mass resignation” in the DND.
That being said, the AFP is generally composed of professional officers and men whose loyalty to the flag and the Constitution is above and beyond their individual preferences.
Having capped his career as the AFP Chief of Staff easily qualifies Gen. Faustino as the next Secretary of National Defense in November, in consideration of the one-year ban on the appointment of newly retired AFP officers under RA 11709.
My objection to his appointment earlier as a 3-star general being the Commanding General of the Philippine Army had nothing to do with his competence but his disqualification due to the prohibition under Presidential Decree 1638, having less than one year before retirement.
Only the Chief of Staff, AFP is exempted from such ban.
I remember making a commitment to SND Lorenzana then that even if Faustino was on floating status and appointed Chief of Staff, I would not object to his confirmation as 4-star general and even move for his confirmation in the Commission on Appointments as a member of the Senate panel, which I did.