THE military’s Board of Generals has recommended to President Duterte 10 three-star generals as potential successor of AFP chief Gen. Felimon Santos, who is due to reach the retirement age of 56 on August 4.
AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo yesterday said the list, which was submitted to the President through the Department of National Defense in the first week of this month, contains the names of “major service commanders, unified command chiefs, and other three-star generals at the GHQ (general headquarters).”
Arevalo did not name the 10 officials recommended to succeed Santos, who assumed the top AFP post in January this year. Santos is the seventh AFP chief to serve under the Duterte administration.
Several officials are subject of talks as front-runners for the top military post, including Medal of Valor awardee Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
The others are Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, and Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo.
Arevalo said the AFP has 14 three-star generals. He said those who were not included in the list of candidates are already “close to retirement.”
On the possibility of Santos getting an extension of his term amid the public health emergency due to COVID-19, Arevalo said, “Well, it’s always the prerogative of the President.”
President Duterte has extended the term of one AFP chief he has appointed — now customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Guerrero assumed the post of AFP chief in October 2017 and was supposed to retire at the age 56 two months later. However, the President extended Guerrero’s term up to April the following year.
“If the President feels or sees that there is a need for him to extend the term of the current chief of staff, then it within his prerogative to do so,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo said Santos has visited various military units in the past weeks “primarily to further boost the morale of the operating troops who have been successful in their conduct of operations.”
Asked if those were farewell visits, Arevalo said, “Definitely, he is going to retire but it not like a farewell visit, the nature and type of discussions.”
On Wednesday, Santos is due to visit the AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command to grace the unit’s third foundation anniversary. The ETDC is under Arevalo’s command.