Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr., on May 21, took over as the new Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff following the retirement of Lt. Gen. Alan R Luga last May 12. Handout photo
MANILA - President Aquino has appointed Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) Chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang as the new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice chief of staff in a move that may affect the list of possible successors to military chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.
Catapang is seen by some military analysts as one of the contenders to succeed Bautista, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on July 21.
Catapang and Bautista are classmates in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1981.
Catapang, who will retire in July 2015, assumed his new post on Wednesday.
The President signed Catapang's appointment last May 16. He was recommended by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Bautista.
A source said Catapang's appointment as the number 2 in the armed forces would allow a smooth succession when Bautista retires in 2 months.
"That puts him in a better position to become chief of staff. He will become familiar with issues and concerns of the AFP when general Bautista bows out of the service this coming July," the official said.
However, another military officer said the choice of Catapang as AFP vice chief of staff benefits other contenders for the post of military chief given the previous appointments to the top military post by Aquino.
Two of the 4 military chiefs appointed by Aquino since assuming office in July 2010 were incumbent Northern Luzon commanders. The are now retired generals Ricardo David and Jessie Dellosa.
Catapang's successor as North Luzon Command chief has not been announced.