A SENIOR Navy officer leading fleet-marine operations in the terrorist-infested Western Mindanao is now the No. 3 man of the Armed Forces.
Rear Adm. Erick Kagaoan assumed the post of AFP deputy chief of staff on Saturday, replacing Lt. Gen. Ramon Lim who reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Prior to his new designation, Kagaoan, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1987, is the head of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) based in Zamboanga City.
As NFWM commander, Kagaoan supervised all fleet-marine operations in western Mindanao, including the Abu Sayyaf-infested Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.
The unit’s area of responsibilities includes Central Mindanao where the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operate. The BIFF is also classified as a terrorist organization like the Abu Sayyaf.
Authorities have yet to announce a replacement for Kagaoan at the NFWM.
Aside from the NFWM, Kagaoan also served as commander of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon based in San Fernando City in La Union; as Chief of Naval Staff, the third highest post in the Philippine Navy hierarchy; and as director of Naval Management and Fiscal Office.
Kagaoan has commanded seven Navy ships, including the BRP Artemio Ricarte, BRP Cebu, and BRP Kalinga-Apayao. He was adjudged as one of the outstanding soldiers in 2012 by the Metrobank Foundation.
AFP chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, who presided over the turnover ceremony, told Kagaoan the AFP leadership “will rally behind all your endeavors as the new TDCS (The Deputy Chief of Staff) for the betterment of our organization.”