PHILIPPINE ARMY (PA) commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, was named the next Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff with the upcoming retirement of Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr., on August 3.
This was after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana forwarded a letter to reporters, signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte and dated July 28, which states that Gapay's appointment will be effective on the same date.
"I wish to inform you that per your letter-endorsement and in accordance with the recommendation of the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Chairman AFP Board of Generals, pursuant to Republic Act 8186, as amended, the designation of Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapat 0-9473 Philippine Army as Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines vice General Felimon T. Santos Jr PA 0-9540 PA is hereby approved effective August 3," the letter said.
Gapay, in a statement to reporters, expressed his thanks to the Chief Executive for his trust and confidence in appointing him as the next AFP chief.
"I thank our Commander-in-Chief for his trust and confidence in giving me the opportunity to lead the Armed Forces of the Philippines in this trying time in our nation’s history. As your incoming Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we will build on the gains of our predecessors whose labors made the AFP an able agent for the betterment of our people and country," he said.
Gapay said they will continue to uphold their mandate to protect and secure our country against external and internal threats.
"In doing so, we will remain accountable to the Filipino people. Because of this, we will continue to push for the modernization of our military to uphold our sovereignty and the integrity of our national territory," he added.
Gapay said the goal of becoming a world-class military will also remain as their guide in building a strong, modern, and credible AFP that the country can be proud of.
"Most importantly, our communities can rely upon the AFP during this pandemic. We are one with the people in overcoming this health challenge — and we are committed to see you through towards its resolution. I also assure everyone that the AFP is a force committed to ensure peace, stability, and progress being denied by terrorists and their narratives," he added.
And contrary to claims being painted by those against the anti-terrorism law, Gapay told the public that the AFP is their protector and not their enemy.
"Alongside closely working with agencies of our government and our stakeholders, we will continue to strengthen our cooperation with local and international agencies to bolster our efforts in combating terrorism. I also ask the support of our people in our efforts to keep our country protected and secure. Yet, more than these, I enjoin our people to trust your only Armed Forces. The AFP can only do so much but with your support, we can do much more," he added.
Meanwhile, AFP spokesperson, Marine Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said the entire military welcomes the appointment of Gapay as their next Chief-of-Staff.
"The Armed Forces of the Philippines warmly welcomes the appointment of Lieutenant General Gilbert I. Gapay, the incumbent Commanding General of the Philippine Army, as the 54th Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines vice General Felimon Santos, Jr. who shall bow out of the service on August 3, 2020," he added.
Gapay is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986 and graduated on top of his class. "He rose steadily to the helm owing to his competencies on all domains of operations particularly Operations, Intelligence, Civil Military Operations, Education and Training and just as important, resource management," Arevalo said.
Also, Gapay's command and leadership philosophies give premium to the welfare of the men and the Filipino people’s support to the AFP’s mission accomplishment.
"His attributes of integrity and competence; his vast experience, gained expertise, management acumen, and his genuine interest of people are his assets in leading the AFP at the height of the pandemic and the peak of counter-terrorism operations," Arevalo said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte has appointed Gapay as AFP Chief of Staff.
In his statement, Roque wished Gapay “all the best” in his new undertaking.
“We expect Gen. Gapay to continue the reform initiatives of modernizing and professionalizing the armed forces while protecting our people and securing the state,” Roque said. (By Priam Nepomuceno)