FIVE Army generals have been recommended by the military leadership to succeed Army chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto, who is due to reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Friday.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo did not identify the five recommended to head the 97,000-strong Philippine Army but said three of them are lieutenant generals and the two others are major generals.
“No announcement yet as to who was chosen, per President Duterte’s exercise of his prerogative to choose who will be his next commanding general of the Philippine Army,” said Arevalo.
“Let’s wait for the formal announcement sometime next week,” added Arevalo.
Arevalo said the AFP’s Board of Generals, chaired by AFP chief Gen. Noel Clement, has already submitted to President Duterte, the AFP’s commander-in-chief, a shortlist of possible successors.
Arevalo said the recommendation was recently submitted to Duterte through Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Arevalo said all the five contenders “possess the attributes of integrity, competence, experience, command and managerial expertise” to lead Army soldiers who are “tasked to the people and secure the land.”
Sources said one of those in contention for the top Army post is Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command based in Lucena City. Gapay is a classmate of Alberto at the Philippine Military Academy class of 1986.
Gapay, who previously served as the commander of the Army’s Mechanized Infantry Division, assumed command as Solcom chief in January this year.
Gapay once served as deputy commander of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City.
Also said to be in contention is Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Zamboanga City-based AFP Western Mindanao Command which is leading the campaign against terrorists and other threat groups in Mindanao.
Sobejana, of PMA class of 1987, assumed command as Wesmincom chief in June this year.
He is a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the military’s highest military decoration, “for acts of conspicuous courage, gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty.”