Ibrado’s testimonial parade called off – extension looms?

By Anthony Vargas
DateLine Philippines

The testimonial parade and review set on Friday for outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief General Victor Ibrado were called off at the last minute fueling speculations that he might be given a term extension.

On Thursday the Army Public Information Office (PIO)  sent out media advisories saying that a testimonial parade and review is set for General Ibrado on Friday afternoon at the army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

A testimonial parade and review is a time honored military tradition in which retiring military commanders are being given the last chance to review and bid farewell to his troops.

But, early Thursday evening, the army PIO sent out a media advisory saying that the testimonial review for General Ibrado was cancelled. The advisory didn’t say why it was cancelled.

“Testimonial Review in honor of General Victor Ibrado is cancelled. Please wait for further development. Thank you,” the army advisory said.

Dateline Philippines tried to get the sides of AFP spokesman, Lt. Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., and Army Spokesman, Lt. Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, but they were out of reach.

An AFP official said that Ibrado and his perceived successor, Army Chief Lt. General Delfin Bangit, had a closed-door meeting with President Arroyo in Malacanang Thursday afternoon.

The AFP source could not specifically reveal what transpired at the meeting, but said the testimonial parade and review for General Ibrado was abruptly cancelled by the Army thereafter.

“We can only speculate what happened at the meeting, but at this point the testimonial parade for General Ibrado is considered cancelled,” said by the AFP source who asked not to be named.

Another Manila-based senior military official said that they were too surprised to learn that the testimonial parade and review for Ibrado was cancelled without any given reasons.

“It’s a testimonial parade for a retiring commander and, so what do you get from this? You are being given an honor… but cancelling this at the last minute, well, let them answer it,” the military official said.

Speculation has been running high in the military that Bangit, perceived to be President Arroyo’s most trusted general, will be likely named as the next chief of staff of the AFP.

The army chief is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 78, which adopted President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as one of their honorary members.

Another military official said that cancelling the testimonial parade and review could only mean one thing, “General Ibrado might be given an extension… this is a strong possibility.”

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