• Defense secretary denies reported retirement

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    DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Monday said that despite his advanced age, he was still strong as a bull and need not resign from his post unless told to do so by the President.

    Gazmin, who is turning 70 on October 22, stressed that it would not be right for him step down just because he was getting old.

    “My service depends on the President. If he wants me to continue, I will continue. If he tells me to resign, I will resign. I’m thankful that I am given the chance to serve the country,” he said.

    “But if people tell me that I’m tired, they’re wrong. I’m still strong. I may be an old man but I’m stronger than ordinary people of my age,” Gazmin further said.

    The defense secretary made the clarification in reaction to reports that he was qutting to give way to outgoing military chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista who will reach the retirement age of 56 on July 20.

    This is the second time around in less than a year that Gazmin was rumored to be on his way out as defense chief.

    When he was reported to be retiring last September, President Benigno Aquino 3rd immediately doused cold water on the allegation and said the Aquino family has a debt of gratitude to Gazmin.

    The Chief Executive cited in particular the heroism and dedication to duty of Gazmin when he defended the administration of his late mother, President Corazon Aquino, from several coup attempts.

    Men of lesser courage, Aquino pointed out, could have panicked and chosen to abandon his mother at the height of the attack in Malacanang, but not Gazmin, who was then chief of the Presidential Security Group.

    Regarding the coming retirement of Bautista, Gazmin said the Board of Generals (BOG) is scheduled to convene on Tuesday to deliberate on the next military chief of staff.

    The process starts at the Board of Senior Officers, which submits its recommendation for review by the BOG.

    All star-rank officers are qualified for the post of chief of staff or commander of the three major services of the armed forces.

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