Philippine President Corazon Aquino named her top general as defense chief today in a military shake-up sparked by the resignation of Defense Secretary Rafael Ileto, who criticized the government for failing to reform the military and effectively combat the communist insurgency.
Aquino went on national television to announce the appointment of armed forces chief Gen. Fidel V. Ramos as new defense head, hours after Ileto, close to tears, warned that the nation's survival was endangered by a fragmented military and a growing communist insurgency.
The rebellion, Ileto declared, "has grown alarmingly strong because of a regime that does not address the welfare of its people."
Deputy Chief Named
In announcing the reshuffle, Aquino said: "The key ingredient is the final defeat of the communist insurgency." She named the deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Renato de Villa, to replace Ramos.
Ramos was a key figure in the February, 1986, revolt that brought Aquino to power and has since put down five attempted coups and supported her through a series of cabinet crises.
Ramos and De Villa have been closely identified with the old guard of the army, which has failed to secure the loyalty of mid-ranking officers.
The younger men are critical of the failure to quell the insurgency or restore the demoralized Philippine military inherited from Ferdinand E. Marcos, whom they helped depose.
Military sources said they doubted the moves would end the criticism and unrest.