From GMA News (Jul 8): Appointment of new AFP chief crucial in PHL’s territorial defense –spokesman
President Benigno Aquino III's appointment of a new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief is crucial in the implementation of the military's "transformation roadmap," or its shift to territorial defense amid the country's maritime dispute with China.
AFP spokesman Brigadier General Joselito Kakilala said Wednesday that Aquino's choice among the five candidates for the top military post would not only play an important role in the 2016 national elections, but more so on the AFP's transition towards territorial defense in the West Philippine Sea.
"Based sa AFP transformation roadmap namin, we’ll be shifting to territorial defense, importante 'yun, and precision, stability," he said.
Five contenders for the position to be vacated by General Gregorio Catapang, Jr. on Friday were interviewed by Aquino last week.
"The President probably wants to find out 'yung preparedness nila to assume the leadership, 'yung perspective nila so these are the things, 'yung strategic, including yung geopolitical dynamics in the region as well as internal nuances natin dito sa bansa natin," Kakilala said.
Kakilala said it is a tight race among Southern Luzon Command's Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, Central Command's Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, Western Command commander Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, and Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado.
"They are all qualified. All their credentials are superb," he said.
The turnover of command will be held on July 10, Friday, a day before Catapang turns 56, the mandatory retirement age for military personnel.
Kakilala said they will not require their personnel to attend the ceremony because of ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) in areas affected by the southwest monsoon as well as Typhoon Falcon.
"Saving lives is given more priority... We have to have more warm bodies sa for HADR operations," he said.
Kakilala said the turnover ceremony, which is traditionally held at the Camp Aguinaldo parade grounds, would likely be held indoors at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club House if the heavy rains persist until Friday.
"With this kind of rain, severe rain, siguro may plan B naman... It will be determined tomorrow siguro, based on the assessment sa weather condition," he said.