Philippines names new military chief

MANILA, March 6, 2011 (AFP) – Philippine President Benigno Aquino named a new armed forces chief on Sunday and urged him to continue with reforms to end entrenched corruption in the force.

Aquino named Lieutenant General Eduardo Oban to the top post of the 130,000 strong military, succeeding General Ricardo David, who retires on Monday after 37 years in the force.

“I have no doubt that he can continue the reforms that General David started,” Aquino said before commencement exercises at the Philippine Military Academy.

Aquino was referring to reforms he had asked David to undertake shortly after he won the presidency on an anti-corruption platform in May last year.

Oban’s appointment comes amid a Congressional inquiry that had exposed scandals involving the misuse of millions of dollars of funds by top generals.

A former military chief, Angelo Reyes, committed suicide last month after being accused of corruption.

Oban had previously held key posts in the armed forces, including developing anti-insurgency strategies and the force’s long-delayed modernisation programme.

The highly decorated officer was a product of the elite Philippine Military Academy and is a certified combat pilot.

Oban also negotiated with more than 300 rogue junior officers and men who took over a luxury hotel in Manila’s Makati financial district in 2003 to peacefully end the short-lived uprising.

The officers had demanded the resignation of key generals, accusing them of corruption along with then president Gloria Arroyo.

Most of those involved in the mutiny were later freed and given amnesty, and one of them campaigned from jail to become a senator.

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