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Military Capabilities

Spotlight falls on Philippine frigates acquisition programme after navy chief’s sudden removal

19 December 2017
A computer generated image of the Philippine Navy's new frigates. Source: Hyundai Heavy Industries

Key Points

  • The Philippine Armed Forces has relieved the country’s navy chief of his duties in a shock move
  • Removal has put a spotlight on the country’s frigates acquisition programme, which has seen a number of irregularities

Acting on instructions from the Department of National Defense (DND), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has removed Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado from his position as Philippine Navy (PN) chief in a widely unexpected move.

The development was confirmed by spokesperson for AFP, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, on 19 December, and the changes took effect on the same day. Adm Mercado assumed leadership of the PN in November 2016.

The admiral is now expected to take on duties within the AFP’s headquarters in Manila, where he may serve until his scheduled mandatory retirement in March 2018 upon reaching the age of 56, in accordance with AFP manpower regulations. However, his exact appointment within the establishment has not been announced by the AFP at the time of writing.

Replacing Adm Mercado as acting PN chief is Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad, who was previously the PN’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Retirees and Reservists Affairs.

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