Air Force chief quits; new head named

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AIR Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. has opted to step down from military service more than a year before he reaches mandatory retirement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana made the remark late Wednesday, when asked on a circulating letter signed by Pres- ident Duterte, where Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez was appointed as Kintanar's successor.

The defense chief confirmed the letter, dated December 5, which says he had endorsed Briguez, c u r re n t head o f the Armed Forces' Western Command, to replace Kintanar.

Kintanar's early retire- ment comes at a time when the PAF is acquiring various equipment - including big-ticket items like attack helicopters - under the AFP modernization program's P300billion "Horizon 2" phase.

Lorenzana did not say why Kintanar, who was not scheduled for mandatory retirement until Jan- uary 2020, decided to quit.

In a post on its Facebook page, popular defense blogging site MaxDefense Philippines said it appears that Kintanar and other PAF senior leaders had defended their choice of Turkishmade attack helicopters, dismaying a rival company that has connections to President Duterte.

It likened Kintanar's situation to that of former Navy chief Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado, who was relieved from his post when he stood by the force’s choice of frigates against another company which was reportedly backed by a group identified with the government. — John Roson

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