MANILA -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has already come up with a list of candidates to succeed Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes who is set to retire on February 7.
While the recommendation was already submitted to President Benigno Aquino III, through Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said they are not setting any time frame for the President.
"A shortlist has already been submitted...The choice is now at the higher level, the President himself," said Tutaan. "It's on the office of the President when it will be released but definitely, it's going to be before the retirement (of Coballes)."
Without naming the officers who were recommended by the Board of Generals, Tutaan said the candidates are "capable with experience, they have professionalism as far as the military organization is concerned."
"They are well-versed of the current programs and of course the other traits (of those recommended) are leadership, accountability and responsibility to actions," he added.
Meanwhile, a source from Camp Aguinaldo said Aquino has already interviewed some of the contenders.
"What I know is that the candidates have been interviewed by the President. Some of them have been mentioned in the papers," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Talks are rife that Northern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang and 7th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri are the top contenders for the Army post.
Catapang is a graduate of PMA Class '81, while Iriberri is a member of PMA Class '83.
Apart from Catapang and Iriberri, the other officers allegedly qualified to succeed Coballes are Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya and Central Command chief Maj. Gen. John Bonafos.