Duterte says 56 is “too young” for military, police to retire; DND proposes “up to 65”

DAVAO CITY  (MindaNews / 23 January) — President Rodrigo Duterte wants a change in the compulsory retirement age of soldiers and other uniformed personnel as 56 is still “kabata” (too young).

But Duterte in his speech Monday afternoon at the launch of the “TienDA para sa mga Bayani” in Camp General Manuel Yan in Mawab, Compostela Valley, did not say at what age he wants them to retire.

MindaNews asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza for their proposed change in retirement age. He said they are “writing a draft bill that would extend the term of those occupying high and sensitive positions such as area commands, service chiefs and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

“The top honcho could go up to 65,” he said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the sidelines of the establishment of the TienDA Para sa mga Bayani at Camp General Manuel Yan Sr. in Mawab, Compostela Valley Province on January 22, 2018. Also in the photo is Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

“We will do away with 56. We will give each rank a time-in-grade” which he defined as length of time one should stay in a rank. “Once he reaches that time-in-grade and does not get promoted, he is compulsorily retired if he reaches retirement age or separarated if not. This system will insure a pyramidal rank structure (for) both officers and enlisted (personnel),” Lorenzana said in a text message on Tuesday.

Duterte, who is turning 73 in March, said the law on compulsory retirement at 56 should be amended because “lugi kaayo ang gobyerno sa inyo” (government is losing so much) by investing on their trainings and letting them retire at the early age of 56.

The retirement age for civil servants is 65.

“Kadakong gasto nako unya… Mag-retire pa ko. Mura ma’g nag-retire kag high school. Kaya dapat palitan ‘yang batas” (We are spending so much on you … it’s like retiring at high school. That’s why the law should be amended), Duterte emphasized.

“Pag trabaho mo uy. 56 ang y***, kabata pa ninyo. Pila ma’y inyong retirement? The most? (You have to work. Fifty six is too young. How much will you receive the most?) Two million? Three million? Four million? Five million? Unya mabuhi ka 56 years old? Ang imong mga anak uban, naa pa sa high school?” (Will you be able to survive at 56 when some of your children may still be in high school?), especially those who have several children or several families.

Duterte’s running mate in the May 2016 elections, Senator Alan Peter Peter Cayetano (now Foreign Affairs Secretary) filed on May 4, 2017 Senate Bill 1436 raising the compulsory retirement age of uniformed personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) from 56 to 60 years old.

Cayetano in his bill noted how government has heavily invested in the training and development of the officers and members of these agencies and that given recent scientific and technological advances, most people over 60 are still capable of sharing their knowledge and expertise, thereby contributing to the development of the next generation of officers.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte flashes his signature pose with 10th Infantry Division Commander Major General Noel Clement, Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Rey Guerrero, Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) Commander Lieutenant Benjamin Madrigal Jr. and other EastMinCom personnel during the establishment of the TienDA Para sa mga Bayani at Camp General Manuel Yan Sr. in Mawab, Compostela Valley Province on January 22, 2018. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

“We need more competent and dedicated uniformed personnel to assist our government pursue its programs to ensure peaceful, orderly, and safe communities,” Cayetano said.

“We need to maximize their years of experience and wealth of knowledge, harness their leadership skills and professional competence until the age of 60,” he added.

Cayetano’s bill, according to the Senate website is still pending at the Committee on National Defense and Security. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)