Duterte names new Army chief

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Photo courtesy: 4th ID, Philippine Army/Facebook

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15)— Just three months after he was designated to lead the Philippine Army, Lieutenant General Jose Faustino is stepping down from his post.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a document dated May 14, has named his replacement: Major General Andres Centino.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed Centino's appointment as the new Army chief.

"Yes, confirmed," Lorenzana told CNN Philippines on Saturday.

Faustino assumed the top Army post on February 15.

During a meeting of the defense committee of the Commission on Appointments in March, Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned Faustino's appointment. He cited a law that prohibits the designation of officials to major positions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines with less than a year in service.

Lacson cited Section 4 of Republic Act 8186 which states, "except for the Chief of Staff of the AFP, no officer shall be assigned/designated to the aforementioned key positions or promoted to the rank of Brigadier General/Commodore or higher if he has less than one year of active service remaining prior to compulsory retirement."

Faustino is set to retire in November. Issues on his appointment were raised during the confirmation hearings of then Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana for AFP Chief.

Sobejana defended Faustino in the meeting, saying the appointment was only in an acting capacity.

"I agree, designated as acting. But it is still a designation, would you agree? And the law is very clear," Lacson told the committee.

Lorenzana said Faustino will stay on as Army chief because the President said so.

"It is the prerogative of the President (on whom to appoint as) commanding general ng Philippine Army," Lorenzana told journalists on March 19.

Centino is currently 4th Infantry Division commander based in Cagayan de Oro.

Both Centino and Faustino belong to the Philippine Military Academy Class 88.

The Philippine Army change of command ceremony is scheduled on Tuesday, May 18.

Faustino "is projected to be the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff on peace and development," according to Armed Forces chief General Cirilito Sobejana.