Editor’s note: This story was written by AP reporter Jim Gomez. 

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The acting Philippine defense chief has resigned, officials said Monday, in the latest in a series of top-level changes in the country’s security establishment that has sparked speculation of renewed military unrest.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. accepted “with deep regret” the resignation of defense officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. and offered the top defense post to Carlito Galvez Jr., another retired general who has been involved in peace talks with insurgent groups, presidential spokesperson Cheloy Garafil said.

Galvez has accepted the offer, Garafil said without providing other details, including why Faustino, a former military chief of staff, decided to resign.

Marcos on Saturday cut short the term of military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, who had been appointed five months ago, and replaced him with a retiring general without explaining the surprise move.

Faustino is a supporter of Bacarro and the two were classmates at the Philippine Military Academy. Bacarro received the highest military award for combat bravery as a young army officer and his three-year term was supposed to continue until August 2025.

The appointment of military chiefs is a sensitive issue. The military has a history of restiveness, failed coup attempts and corruption scandals, and has faced accusations of human rights violations. Efforts have been made for years to instill professionalism in the military and insulate it from the country’s traditionally chaotic and corruption-tainted politics.

Lt. Gen. Andres Centino, a military chief of staff whom Bacarro replaced in August last year, was reinstated by Marcos to the top post of the 144,000-strong armed forces.

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