THE Armed Forces has recommended to President Duterte eight senior military officers who can succeed AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on September 28.
“It’s already forwarded to the President…We’re sure it’s already at the office of the President by now,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said yesterday, referring to the shortlist made by the AFP’s Board of Generals.
Arevalo said the list included seven to eight of the 13 three-star generals and flag officers (lieutenant generals and vice admirals) of the AFP. He did not identify those in the shortlist.
“They have proven competence, integrity and managerial and leadership acumen. Definitely, making it to the shortlist make them very much qualified to be the AFP chief of staff,” said Arevalo.
The incoming chief of staff will be the sixth AFP chief to be designated by Duterte. Aside from Madrigal, the rest were now presidential adviser on the peace process Carlito Galvez, now interior secretary Eduardo Ano, now customs chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero and now National Irrigation Authority chief Ricardo Visaya.
Arevalo said the incoming AFP chief is expected to continue the program and operational thrust of the current military leadership, “especially pursuing the guidance of President Dutert to finish insurgency within his term.”
Duterte has said he wants the communist insurgency problem finished before the end of his term in June 2022. Military estimates placed the NPA strength at about 3,500 men throughout the country.
Arevalo said Madrigal is scheduled to relinquish his post on Sept. 24, four days ahead of his retirement date. Madrigal, of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1985, assumed command as AFP chief last December.
A senior military official said at least six three-star officers are in the running to succeed Madrigal, including Army chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto, a member of the PMA class 1986.
“One of them needs no introduction. We all know his close relations with President Duterte even before he became president,” he said of Alberto.
Alberto has only three months left before he reaches the retirement age of 56 in December. But the President, the AFP’s commander-in-chief, has the prerogative to extend the term of an AFP chief.
Duterte extended the term of one of the AFP chiefs he appointed – Guerrero – who was supposed to retire at the age of 56 in December 2017, by four months.
The source said the two other contenders for the top AFP post are Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Noel Clement (PMA class 1985) and Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos (PMA class 1986).