Manila: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday abruptly fired the military chief he appointed five months ago and replaced him with a retired general.
Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacaro, who received the highest military award for combat valor as a young army officer, was replaced by Marcos' office in a statement late Friday that did not specify the reason for the change in military leadership. Bacarro's three-year term was set to expire in August of 2025.
Last August, military chief Lieutenant General Andres Santino, who had replaced Baccaro, was appointed by Marcos to lead the 144,000-strong armed forces. Santino, who is due to retire next month, was chosen from among more than a dozen senior generals and will serve a new three-year term.
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Asked about his reaction to his sacking, Bakaro told reporters in a text message on Friday night that the army would support the new army chief.
A new law that took effect last year extended the army chief's term to three years, giving a top general more time to implement reforms and a longstanding government facing Muslim and communist insurgencies.
Started a year-long campaign to modernize the army. as well as China's increasingly aggressive actions in the disputed South China Sea, where the Philippines shares disputed islands, islets and reefs with other coastal states.
The appointment of military chiefs is a controversial decision in an army beset by unrest, failed coup attempts, corruption scandals and allegations of human rights violations.
Over the years, efforts have been made to instill professionalism in the military and to insulate it from the country's historically chaotic and corrupt politics.
Bacaro gave Santino a sword, a symbol of military leadership, and thanked the army, his family and the president during a ceremony at the capital's main military camp on Saturday. Marcos was not present at the ceremony, but his closest advisers, including Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, were present.
Bersamin emphasized in a speech how impressed he was with the smooth military leadership change, which he said should be emulated by politicians to avoid post-election unrest, as seen in the United States . Is.
"Continue this tradition, where you respect each other and pay so much attention to the competency of your fellow officers to enable your organization ... to move forward rather than backward," Bersamin said.
He said that Marcos had asked him and other key presidential advisers to show Bakaro "the utmost respect" for his battlefield exploits and hinted that the general might be offered another government position after his military career was over.
Despite his small force, Bacaro received the Military Medal of Valor in 1991 for repelling an attack on a northern Philippine town by about 150 communist guerrillas.
Wounded in the thigh by insurgent gunfire, he commandeered a dump truck and rammed a fence, allowing the pinned-down government militiamen to escape. ,