President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has appointed a new chief of staff for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Taking over the top military post is Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner, replacing outgoing AFP chief General Andres Centino.
The announcement of the new military leadership was made by Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil. She stated that General Centino will be reassigned as a presidential adviser focusing on the West Philippine Sea.
Lieutenant General Brawner brings over 34 years of military experience to the chief of staff position. He graduated second in his class from the Philippine Military Academy’s “Makatao” Class of 1989. Over his career, Brawner has served as the PMA commandant and commander of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division.
One of Brawner’s most notable record was overseeing combat operations that led to the neutralization of Jorge Madlos, also known as “Ka Oris,” who was a top commander of the communist New People’s Army.
Brawner was also the Army commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade stationed in Marawi which neutralized ISIS Maute leader Abu Dar in 2019. Abu Dar (real name Owaidah Benito Marohombsar) was the last known surviving leader behind the 2017 Marawi siege.
Meanwhile, outgoing AFP chief General Centino’s reassignment as presidential adviser will allow him to continue utilizing his military expertise, now with a focus on the strategic West Philippine Sea, the Palace announced.
The announcement of the new Philippine military leadership was made as China is showing aggression in the South China Sea, posing a potential flashpoint for the armed forces under its new chief. With Chinese naval activities increasing near disputed territories like the Spratly Islands, the Philippines faces renewed pressure to defend its maritime claims while managing delicate relations with its powerful neighbor.
As tensions simmer in the region, all eyes will be on whether the military’s change in command results in a shift in strategy for handling Chinese expansionism in the contested sea. The new AFP leadership has its work cut out maintaining stability against the backdrop of growing Chinese assertion of control over the strategic waterway.
Brawner’s education includes three master’s degrees in information management, business administration, and strategic studies. He graduated from prestigious institutions such as the Ateneo de Manila University, Asian Institute of Technology, European School of Management, and the United States Army War College.
Among Brawner’s numerous awards and honors are the Outstanding Philippine Soldiers award in 2013 and the Lapu-Lapu Award from President Rodrigo Duterte recognizing his contributions against extremist groups. Prior to becoming AFP chief of staff, Brawner served as commanding general of the Philippine Army.