It’s an open race for the top military post with the retirement in less than two weeks of Armed Force chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana bared Sunday.
Gapay, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Sinagtala” Class of 1986 and batch valedictorian, is to retire at the age of 56 on 4 February 2021.
According to Lorenzana, the list of contenders for the highest AFP post is already at the Office of the President and is set to be reviewed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It’s an open race yet. Maybe next week we will know,” Lorenzana said.
“Submitted na (‘yung list),” he added.
The candidates are based on the recommendations by the AFP Board of Generals. All three-star generals are qualified for the position to become the 55th AFP chief.
The military said it is the prerogative of the president as commander-in-chief to choose the next AFP chief.
All service commanders are candidates. Also in contention are the military’s area commanders.
Gapay, the eighth AFP chief under the Duterte administration since 2016, took over the position on 3 August 2020.
Prior to his assumption as Chief of Staff, he was the 61st commanding general of the Philippine Army.