OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines?The military officer who is said to be the choice of President-elect Benigno Aquino III as the next military chief of staff said ?dedicated soldiery and love for country? mattered the most in the selection of the next leader of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
?Definitely it is an honor and I am humbled to be a candidate [for AFP chief of staff]. Just like the others, I am qualified and prepared to assume the highest position in the military,? Lt. Gen. Ricardo David Jr., said by phone from Tarlac City on Saturday.
David, 55, heads the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), an AFP unified unit that secures the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera regions.
He said he learned that his credentials were being studied by the incoming Aquino administration even before the Inquirer reported that he was being considered for the post of chief of staff.
?It will now depend on the appointing authority to determine the weights of my credentials,? he said.
David, who was born in this Pampanga capital in 1955, lost his father, a laborer, when he was 11 years old. His mother, a dressmaker, moved the family to Victoria town in Tarlac in 1969.
Finishing always at the top of his class in elementary and high school, David scored the highest rating in a preparatory military training before he entered college.
An academic scholarship from the Saint Louis University in Baguio City enabled him to take up an engineering course there. But the Philippine Military Academy beckoned.
?Perhaps, it was my fate,? he said.
David is a member of the PMA ?Masikap? Class of 1977.
As a second lieutenant, he was tested in the conflict areas of Mindanao from 1977 to 1983. As a captain, he went on to become a staff officer of the Army?s morale and welfare unit.
In 1987, David was assigned to the Presidential Security Group as training and operations officer. He later worked as company commander of the presidential guards who secured Aquino?s mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino.
?I always worked behind the scene,? he said of that almost five-year stint with the PSG.
President-elect Aquino, David said, was ?never a barkada (close friend).?
David said he never took part in military or civilian uprisings because he preferred to ?obey the Constitution."
?I sympathized with some issues though," he said.
David worked in the AFP headquarters as staff member in the plans, programs and budget section of the AFP comptroller?s office from 1992 to 1996.
Back in the field 1996, he led the Army?s 50th Infantry Battalion and 402nd Infantry Brigade. By 2006, he was assigned to the AFP Command Center and by 2008, to the Army Support Command.
David led the 4th Infantry Division before becoming Nolcom chief in 2009.
He topped several special military courses, including those related to artillery as well as command and general staff courses, his service record showed.
David also took up various courses in the United States, Australia and Germany.
He completed a basic management course at the Asian Institute of Management and obtained a master?s degree in business administration from the Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City.
He is described as an advocate of dialogue and consultation in resolving armed conflicts through peace councils.
In AFP units, David is known to be an advocate of human rights.
?I?ve been drilling this into soldiers: Let us engage the enemy in the battlefields but let?s respect the rights of activists to air legitimate grievances,? he said.
?Insurgency cannot be wiped out by battles alone. We need a civilized approach,? he said.
A health buff, David bikes, runs, plays badminton and golf. Aside from reading, he enjoys solving the number puzzle Sudoku.
David?s younger brother is Army Brig. Gen. Renato David, a member of PMA ?Matapat? Class of 1979. He has two half-brothers, one who is a lawyer and the other an Army major.