Senior AFP officials back Ibrado extension

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Senior military officials have expressed support for the term extension of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, who is due to retire in less than two months.

The senior military officials denied that their support for Ibrado was aimed at preventing any move to appoint Army chief Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA)’s class 1978 of which President Arroyo is an adopted member, as chief of staff.

Bangit, perceived to be fiercely loyal to the President, is being groomed to succeed Ibrado, who will turn 56 and retire on March 10. The President is barred from making new appointments two months before the elections and until the end of her term on June 30.

If appointed, Bangit will bypass senior military officers of PMA class 1977, several of whom are strong contenders for the highest military position.

The officials, who asked not to be named, said that extending the term of Ibrado will give the next president a free hand to appoint a new AFP chief.

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