The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stood by the statement of Department of National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. that the designation of Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. as the new commander of Western Command is part of an administrative decision.

AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the move is part of the “ongoing changes in leadership and key positions within the military that are necessary for the institution to adapt to an evolving security environment and effectively address emerging challenges.”

Torres took over as the Western Command’s (Wescom) acting commander on May 7 from Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos. However, Teodoro clarified on Thursday, May 16, that he was already named commander in full.

“There’s a leadership not only here (in Wescom) but in other [area] commands,” Teodoro said.

The AFP has yet to fully clarify the status of Carlos, who has reportedly gone on leave, or whether he is under investigation or sanction related to China’s disclosure/claim of a recorded conversation.

Wescom, according to Trinidad, is essential to the AFP and “needs a full-time leader with more years of service in order to provide continuity and strategic direction.”

“We offer our full support to Rear Admiral Torres, and we are confident in his ability to lead with distinction,” he said.