5 contenders for AFP chief
MANILA, Philippines — With the country’s top soldier, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, set to retire just days into the new year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is eyeing at least five contenders to be its next chief of staff.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the AFP board of generals was drafting a shortlist of contenders for the top military post which would then be forwarded to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
The AFP board of generals is chaired by the chief of staff and has, for its other members, the vice chief of staff, the deputy chief of staff and the three major service commanders.
On Tuesday, Arevalo told the Inquirer there are at least five generals who are likely to be on the list: Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay; Northern Luzon command chief Lt. Gen. Ramiro Rey; Western Mindanao command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana; Eastern Mindanao command chief Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr.; and Western command chief Vice Adm. Rene Medina.
The Air Force commander and Navy flag officer in command are traditionally among the contenders for the AFP’s top post, Arevalo said.
But he explained that Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez and Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad are already near retirement.
“Whoever will be chosen is expected to continue the AFP’s programs,” Arevalo said. “He will continue our campaign to defeat the communist terrorist group before the end of the term of the President.”
Arevalo said the Army and the Philippine Military Academy have each given the outgoing chief of staff a testimonial parade and review for his scheduled retirement on Jan. 5.
When he bows out of the service next year, Clement would have served the shortest term as AFP chief of staff at just over three months, having been designated to the top post on Sep. 26.
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