From the Daily Tribune (Nov 3): Army, Air Force Chiefs Lead Race for the TOP AFP Post
Almost three months before the retirement of incumbent Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa, the race for his probable successor has started with two senior generals as front-runners. This early, military sources said that Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, and Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz, of PMA Class of 1980, are considered as the top contenders. “While both are qualified officers, they also have the right connections,” one of the sources said. According to the source, a retired Air Force general, who is closely identified with President Aquino, could make the difference for De la Cruz. “That retired officer was influential to the appointment of General Oban,” said the source, apparently referring to former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban, an Air Force officer. “Without discrediting the credentials of General Oban, of course, but as we know appointment to the AFP top post does not only require very good professional record but more on the right connections,” the source said. De la Cruz has another advantage being a member of the PMA “Mapitagan” Class of 1980 which has the presidential sisters — Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Pinky Aquino-Abellada, Viel Aquino-Dee and actress Kris Aquino — as honorary members. On the other hand, another source said Bautista also has his own connections. Aside from being the commanding general of the 80,000-strong Army, the second source said Bautista could also bank on the success of the ongoing AFP’s internal peace and security plan “Bayanihan,” which he spearheaded during his time as AFP deputy chief of staff for operations. “He is credited for ‘Bayanihan’ and, of course, he also has his own network,” the second source said, without elaborating. Dellosa, of PMA Class of 1979, is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 this coming January. He was the third AFP chief appointed by Aquino, after Ricardo David and Oban.