CA confirms Clement as AFP chief, Cusi as PMA superintendent

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Appointments on Wednesday, November 13, confirmed the ad interim appointments of Lieutenant General Noel Clement as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief and Rear Admiral Allan Cusi as Philippine Military Academy (PMA) superintendent.

There was no opposition to the confirmation of Clement and Cusi who, as expected, breezed through the CA plenary on Wednesday.

Clement, a member of PMA Sandiwa Class of 1985, is the 6th AFP Chief of Staff to be appointed by President Duterte within 3 years and is set to retire in 4 months, or January 2020.

Prior to taking the helm of the military, Clement had a long history battling communist insurgents in different parts of the country.

During the confirmation hearing, Senator Risa Hontiveros asked Clement whether the martial law in Mindanao should be extended. Mindanao had been under military rule for more than two years already.

"The current security situation has improved a lot," he said, echoing Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's reservations.

As Senator Grace Poe sponsored Clement's confirmation to the CA plenary, she said her "only regret was that he will serve as AFP chief for a short time."

"General Noel Clement is proof that it is indeed quality leadership and not length of command that is the true measure of success as the AFP Chief of Staff. To command is to serve," Poe said.

"And his outstanding years of service showed us exactly this. Our only regret, perhaps, is that he will serve too short a time as AFP Chief," she added.

Against hazing

Cusi, meanwhile, was named as PMA superintendent after Lieutenant General Ronnie Evangelista stepped down because of the fatal hazing of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio.

Cusi had said that he doesn't believe in hazing. He reiterated the same stance during his confirmation hearing, as Hontiveros asked him what reforms would he institute to prevent hazing.

"I will be the best example for cadets. Change must come not only from the cadets but from the officers and the military," Cusi told CA members. (READ: 'Have heart and soul,' new PMA chief tells cadets)

The new PMA chief said that he will employ the strategy called "group norming", which he said he picked up from tech giant Google, in a bid to change the community's culture over time. 

Cusi said that the battle to change the culture will not be won overnight, but over time. He also pointed out the need to change habits: "We need to go back to the basics."

The PMA chief added that he will provide cadets with a psychologically safe environment to be able to voice out their concerns without the fear or reprisal.

"The harshest part of leadership is to listen. To listen to our seniors, to our peers, and to our subordinates. Why? Because our ego always gets in the way," he said.

At the hearing, the PMA chief also suggested there was a need to "review" the strength of the anti-hazing law. – with reports from JC Gotinga/Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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