MANILA - Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has been appointed the head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said Catapang, former chief of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), will replace retiring AFP chief Emmanuel Bautista.
As Nolcom chief, Catapang has also served in the jurisdiction of Tarlac, President Benigno Aquino III’s home province.
Catapang has always been favored to replace Bautista. His papers were signed on Tuesday.
Zagala said Catapang, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, is “a professional officer."
"He has served in all levels of command within the Philippine Army and within the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We are confident that with him being the 45th chief of staff, he will bring the AFP to greater heights.”
Prior to becoming Nolcom chief, he served as 7th Infantry Division commander. He is also a former member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement.
Bautista's action plan is expected to continue under Catapang.
Zagala said Bautista "as a strategic thinker has left behind a legacy of bringing a lot of things to the AFP… We are confident that the groundwork has been set for the next chief of staff."
Bautista is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Sunday, but will already relinquish his post on Friday.
Catapang is expected to be introduced during Bautista’s testimonial parade on Friday. The event will be led by Aquino.