Who will be next Army chief? Catapang, Iriberri among contenders

/ 04:37 PM January 06, 2014

Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. and Major General Hernando Iriberri

MANILA, Philippines – The Army leadership will soon have its new chief with the retirement of its current head Lieutenant General Noel Coballes.

Military chief General Emmanuel Bautista said that the selection process is “ongoing.”


“It’s a continuing process of evaluating… There are a lot who are qualified to be CGPA [Commanding General, Philippine Army] and rest assured the leadership is evaluating [all the candidates],” he told reporters.

Coballes is scheduled to retire on February 7 as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.


Bautista declined to comment on who would be the leading contenders of the top Army post. The final decision, he said, will come from President Benigno Aquino III.

Murmurs at Camp Aguinaldo indicate that the top Army chief contenders are Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. and Major General Hernando Iriberri.

Catapang is the current commander of the Northern Luzon Command. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, the same class of Bautista.

Iriberri, meanwhile, currently heads the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. He is also closely identified with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, having served as the latter’s Senior Military Assistant. He is a member of PMA Class 1983.

Part of Catapang and Iriberri’s jurisdiction is Tarlac, the province of Aquino.

“I’m already used to work anywhere I’m assigned. I will just do my job. What does it take to be a CGPA? That’s a big question mark because that’s a tough job. Let’s just wait. As of now, we are focused with our job. As you can see we are doing well,” Catapang told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo after the turnover of P300,000 cash donations they raised to a non-government organization.

The Northern Luzon Command raised the money by holding a benefit concert, golf and shooting tournaments and creating furniture from uprooted trees during typhoon Santi that ravaged Luzon in October. They intend to help victims of last year’s calamities.


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