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Not retired: Ex-Air Force chief sets record straight

PHOTO FROM SSG AMABLE MILAY/ PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE

MANILA, Philippines — Former Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. has put an end to speculations on whether he would retire from military service at the change of command on Friday.

In his speech, it was clear he intends to bow out of service on his compulsory retirement date on January 14, 2020 even as few issues on his status and questions surrounding his sudden replacement remain unsettled.

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“As I relinquish my post, and finally retire on 14 January 2020, or 13 months from now, may we be on the right side of history, or may history be kinder to all of us,” he said in his outgoing speech at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

There seems to be confusion on the Palace end if the Air Force general is retired or not. In his speech, President Rodrigo Duterte referred to Kintanar as “retired.”

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Duterte said he is tapping Kintanar as administrator of Philippine Coconut Authority because he believes the general can do the job to return more than P80 billion in coco levy funds to farmers.

“I don’t know him. I know that he’s a general who chose to retire early. And that is really no cause to worry. It’s just a few months. But sabi ko na, ‘Kailangan ko ng tao and I’m eyeing on you,’” Duterte said.

“So when the time comes and if I can get the mechanisms of how the money will be distributed to the beneficiaries and if I look for somebody na talagang makita ko na ang pera ng Pilipino hindi mawawala, it should be the retired Gen. Kintanar,” he added.

Early December, Kintanar was suddenly replaced without an immediate announcement of his next assignment even if he was 13 months away from retirement. He served as Air Force chief for 14 months.

There are talks in social media that Kintanar was removed from his post for sticking to the Air Force technical working group’s selection of attack helicopter and combat utility helicopter acquisition projects despite alleged interventions from outsiders close to the President.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership quickly dismissed the rumors, saying: “He was replaced not for any issues of corruption or anomalies as insinuated by some posts in social media. This recent change in the PAF leadership is part of the ongoing movement in the top posts in the AFP hierarchy.”

At one point, defense and military officials said Kintanar was retiring early and then took it back later on and instead announced that he would be considered for a position at the General Headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo.

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But Kintanar himself would not comment on the speculations, telling reporters after Friday’s ceremony that he finds it best to tell his story on his retirement date 13 months from now.

“I will retire on 14 January 2020 and maybe it’s best to tell my story that time, less the emotions on what really transpired. Nonetheless, things happen for a reason and I’m happy to have served the Air Force,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kintanar welcomed the job offer of the President but with an understanding that he would remain in military service.

“He offered it already and I believe it’s a challenge. I believe I will have to do my homework and do my best to implement the instructions,” he told reporters after the event.

“Very clear naman ang instructions ni Presidente. Just make sure it reaches the farmers and those who need it. We need to revitalize and resuscitate the coconut industry,” he added.

Asked by reporters if that means that he would retire from service if he accepts the President’s offer, Kintanar said: “No. I believe there’s a mechanism for that. We call it a settlement. I believe I can work without being paid by the government because I still have a soldier’s salary….Nonetheless, I’m here to serve as I’ve always done for the past 37 years.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, on the other hand, said once Kintanar accepts the PCA post, he is automatically retired from service: “He cannot get the job as an active military.” /kga

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