From the Daily Tribune (Jan 6): 2 named as top contenders for Army chief post
Two senior generals are among the top contenders to replace Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, who is scheduled to retire next month upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Informed military sources named incumbent Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Lt. Gen. Gregorioa Pio Catapang Jr. and Army 7th Infantry Division (ID) commander Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri as the top contenders for the Army top post.
Both Catapang and Iriberri, sources said, enjoy the trust and confidence of President Aquino, who is the appointing authority for the Army post.
“You cannot be assigned as Nolcom chief and 7th ID commander if you don’t have the trust of the President. Those commands play vital role in the security of seat of government with their proximity to the National Capital Region,” one source said.
Nolcom is based at the Camp Gen. Servillano Aquino in Tarlac, the home province of Aquino, while 7th ID is headquartered in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
While both Army generals are qualified to assume the top Army post, another source said that Catapang has the slight advantage against Iriberri, being a senior officer.
Catapang is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981 while Iriberri belongs to the PMA Class of 1983.
Catapang is described as “competent and hardworking” by his peers in the military service.
“He is deserving and very qualified and competent. He is hard-working,” said a senior official based in Camp Aguinaldo.
Iriberri, on the other hand, has served as senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who is perceived to be his (Iriberri’s) mentor.
“General Iriberri is very much qualified to take the Army top post. He is a professional officer,” said a Camp Aguinaldo-based officer.
A member of the PMA Class of 1980, Coballes has already started his farewell visits to the Army field units. He will also be hosting his last New Year’s Call to Army officers and select enlisted personnel today.