RESIGNED Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Senior Undersecretary Jose C. Faustino Jr. said he stepped down from post after he was not informed about the plans of leadership change in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a statement, Faustino said he only learned about the oath-taking of the reinstalled AFP Chief of Staff Andres Centino at the Malacañang on Friday, January 6, 2023, from news and social media reports.

“With the utmost respect, I submitted my irrevocable letter of resignation to the President, His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., on Friday, January 6, 2023, after learning only from news and social media reports that an oath of office of the new chief of staff, AFP had taken place at Malacañang,” he said.

The DND exercises executive supervision over the AFP, Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), Government Arsenal (GA), and Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC).

On Monday, January 9, Malacañang announced that Marcos accepted Faustino’s resignation, as well as the subsequent appointment of Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. as the new DND secretary.

Faustino, who served as the 63rd acting commanding general of the Philippine Army before he was appointed as AFP chief of staff in 2021, said the AFP is an upright organization that is professional, highly capable and committed to protecting the country and people from all threats, whether foreign or domestic.

He said he cannot allow the AFP’s reputation to be “tarnished, maligned, or politicized,” but he did not explain further.

“Admittedly, it has had its own share of life’s ups and downs, but nonetheless, it genuinely strives hard to earn and deserve the trust, respect and confidence of our people and allies. It has undeniably proven its mettle over the decades. It is a highly disciplined and competent organization that will survive under any given circumstance,” he said.

“Thus, fully cognizant of the selfless sacrifice and courage of our troops and civilian human resources, I cannot allow the AFP’s reputation to be tarnished, maligned, or politicized. I assure everyone that I will always hold the AFP in high esteem, which its men and women have painstakingly earned,” he added.

On Saturday, January 7, Centino took over as the 59th chief of staff of the AFP, replacing Lieutenant General Bartolome Bacarro, a medal of valor awardee, who assumed the top position on August 8, 2022.

Centino had previously served as the AFP chief of staff from November 2021 to August 8, 2022.

Amid Saturday’s event in the military headquarters, reports of mass resignation in the DND and alleged destabilization plot within the AFP surfaced.

It was, however, denied by the officials of the concerned law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, in a statement, DND spokesperson Director Arsenio Andolong expressed support for Galvez’s appointment, saying they are confident that he will be able to effectively lead the department in fulfilling its mandate to the nation considering his years of experience as a military commander and as a civilian public servant.

Andolong also expressed gratitude to Faustino for his service and leadership.

The AFP also welcomed Galvez as the secretary of defense.

“His wealth of experience both as a military commander and as a public servant, along with his proven leadership in the government’s fight against Covid-19, will help sustain our country’s gains in peace and security,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar said in a statement adding they also wish Faustino all the best going forward. (SunStar Philippines)