THE relief and reassignment of two of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Philippine Military Academy (PMA) "mistahs" is not politics but professionalization, Malacañang said Saturday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the moves were not to go after those perceived close to Arroyo, but to improve the system in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

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“All these movements go through the Board of Generals. The purpose of reshuffling is the professionalization of the AFP,” he said on government-run dzRB radio.

Earlier, Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue was relieved as chief of the AFP’s Metro Manila command and was reassigned as chief of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao in Zamboanga City.

Replacing him is his mistah, Major General Arthur Tabaquero, head of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division. In turn, Tabaquero will be replaced by Major General Mario Chan, 4th Infantry Division chief.

All are members of PMA Class of 1978, which adopted Arroyo as its honorary member.

“Patuloy ang paglilipat-lipat for their own reasons, wala itong bahid pulitika. Ito ay to improve the system in the AFP,” Lacierda said.

Philippine Marines commandant Major General Juancho Sabban, another Arroyo mistah, was named as the new commander of the AFP Western Mindanao Command.

Sabban’s post will go to Joint Task Force Comet chief General Rustico Guerrero (PMA 1981).

Angue had bared to media alleged attempts to rig the results of the 2004 elections in favor of then administration candidate Arroyo, when he was chief of the Navy’s Task Force 62 based in Tawi-Tawi.

Sabban said last month that several senior Marine officials are already willing to share vital information regarding the alleged irregularities in the 2004 polls that supposedly benefited Arroyo.

Meanwhile, Lacierda noted the AFP recognizes the role of non-PMA graduates when it named a non-PMAer to a key role.

He was referring to Major General Artemio Orozco, who replaces Air Force vice commander Major General Eduardo Oban (PMA 1979). Oban was named new AFP deputy chief of staff.

Also, AFP inspector general Major General Jovencio Magalzo (non-PMA) was appointed as the new AFP deputy chief of staff for reservists and retirees affairs.

He replaces Major General Antonio Bautista, another non-PMA officer, who retired from the service last month.

“It shows talagang mismo ang AFP recognizes role of non-PMA officials in (its) hierarchy,” Lacierda said. (JMR/Sunnex)