THE confirmation last Wednesday, March 7, of the ad interim appointments by President Duterte of nine nominees to the AFP’s reserve force was considered unprecedented in the history of the Commission on Appointments (CA) because it was the first time that two senators and seven representatives were up for confirmation all at the same time.

For San Juan Representative and CA vice chair Ronaldo Zamora who seconded the nomination, the nominees were “the best and brightest that the august Chamber can offer the Philippines.”

Those who were promoted to the rank of Colonel in the AFP’s reserve force were Senator Loren Legarda, Philippine Air Force; Senator Manny Pacquiao, Philippine Army; House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Philippine Navy-Marines; House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Judge Advocate General Service (JAGS); Cavite 5th District Representative Roy Loyola (Philippine Army); Deputy Speaker and Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia, Philippine Army; Deputy Speaker and Maguindanao 1st District Representative Bai Sandra Sema, Philippine Army; and Pangasinan 6th District Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.

The only star rank officer among the nine nominees was Major General Rene Glenn Paje, formerly commander of the First Scout Ranger Company and currently the AFP’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (J7). Because his appointment was deferred the previous week due to some technicalities pertaining to the date of his appointment, General Paje initially preferred to stay low key when I asked if I could post his photos. Eventually he agreed when he realized, much to his pleasure, how great a privilege and honor it was to be among eight VIPs.

“Para na rin akong senador,” the good General said in jest.

The confirmation of the bigwigs was likewise a big thing to many, especially to the Philippine Marine Corps. A day before their confirmation, Speaker Alvarez and Congressman Farinas filed House Bill No. 7304, while Senator Sonny Angara filed Senate Bill No. 1731, both entitled “An Act Establishing the Philippine Marine Corps, Defining its Powers and Functions, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.” The House version was read on First Reading that afternoon at the plenary session of the House of Representatives.

Section 7, Article III of Republic Act No. 7077, otherwise known as the “Citizen Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act,” mandates “the Citizen Armed Force, alternately referred to as the Reserve Force…to provide the base for the expansion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the event of war, invasion or rebellion; to assist in relief and rescue during disaster or calamities; to assist in socioeconomic development; and to assist in the operation and maintenance of essential government or private utilities in the furtherance of overall mission.”

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