General hurting at bypass
No clapping on Army chief’s promotion
By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The military officer whom President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo designated as martial law administrator in Maguindanao province last year has admitted he’s not happy over being bypassed in the selection of the new commander of the Army.
Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command, said on Tuesday he and other ranking military officers were “not clapping [their] hands or celebrating” the appointment of Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu as Army chief.
“But we’re not questioning the prerogative of the President,” Ferrer quickly added. “It’s [her] prerogative to appoint military officers whom she trusts to key positions.”
Ferrer spoke with the Philippine Daily Inquirer after testifying at Tuesday’s hearing in Camp Crame of the rebellion case against members of the powerful Ampatuan family of Maguindanao.
Ms Arroyo declared martial law in the province on Dec. 4, 2009, naming Ferrer as administrator, and lifted it on Dec. 12.
The martial law declaration was in connection with the purported rebellion of the Ampatuans and their followers, the suspects in the Nov. 23 massacre of 57 people, including at least 30 journalists, in Maguindanao.
Asked what he felt when he was passed over for the top Army post, Ferrer said: “I will just do my job. As a soldier, I will follow orders. I respect the prerogative of the President.”
Ferrer also spoke highly of Mapagu: “He’s qualified for the position because he also served as a division commander. He rose [through] the leadership ladder.”
A 1977 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Ferrer was expected to replace Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit as Army chief. (Bangit, a former head of the Presidential Security Group, was appointed AFP chief of staff last week.)
But Ms Arroyo appointed Mapagu who, like Bangit, is a member of PMA Class of 1978, which has adopted the President as an honorary member.
The appointments of Bangit and Mapagu were followed by that of their “mistah” (classmate)—Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue—as chief of the Army’s National Capital Region Command (NCRCom).
Angue’s appointment further fueled speculation about the so-called “Oplan August Moon,” a purported plan designed to extend Ms Arroyo’s stay in power and entailing putting members of PMA Class ’78 in vital military and police posts.
NCRCom is known as the primary anti-coup unit of the military.
Another member of the class, Director Roberto Rosales, is being rumored to replace Director General Jesus Verzosa as chief of the Philippine National Police. Rosales heads the Metro Manila police force.
PMA ’77 meeting
The talk going around is that members of PMA Class of 1977 met somewhere in Metro Manila a few hours after the Department of National Defense confirmed Mapagu’s appointment as Army chief on March 10.
Ferrer declined to comment when asked. “I don’t know anything about it,” he said in Filipino.
But according to a senior police officer, the meeting indeed took place.
“The officers were just concerned about the sudden turn of events in the military and its major services,” said the source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the subject.