MANILA -- The vice commander of the Philippine Navy is set to assume the position of Navy chief, replacing Vice Admiral Jesus Millan who is bowing out of service upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Commander Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad will assume the position of Navy chief on Monday at a change of command ceremony to be presided by President Benigno Aquino III.
"Admiral Taccad is a very professional officer…He is an officer who is easy to get along with. He is easy to talk with, he is very simple," said Navy spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo of Taccad, a classmate of Millan at the Philippine Military Academy class of 1982.
Other prominent members of the class include Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP_ vice chief Lt. Gen. John Bonafos, AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, AFP Western Command chief Vice Adm, Alexander Lopez and AFP Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar.
"He (Taccad) is very simple and very soft-spoken but he is well-regarded and well-respected in the Navy…We, senior officers, are very confident that he will be able to pursue the plans and aspirations of the Navy to transform from what we call a 'legacy Navy' to that of a 'future Navy,'" said Arevalo.
Arevalo said the Navy is living in "exciting times" and it is "very timely" for Taccad to assume the post "because of his insights, his vision, his brand of leadership will definitely bring the Navy to its greater heights."
The Philippine Navy is at the forefront in protecting the country's interest in the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea. The Spratlys is being claimed in part or in whole by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysian, Brunei and Vietnam.
"As of now, we have yet to hear any pronouncement from him but we are expecting that to happen in a matter of days or maybe the next day after his assumption of command on Monday," Arevalo said, referring to how the new Navy chief will handle the issue.
"We are expecting he will be calling a command conference and he would surely give our his instructions, he will give his directions. We might be hearing some of them in his assumption speech come Monday afternoon during the change or command ceremony," he said.
As Navy vice commander, Taccad is also the chairman of the Navy's Modernization Board, that implements the command's modernization program - which calls for the acquisition of modern ships, including frigates.
Before becoming the Navy's vice commander, Taccad was the Chief Naval Staff. He was also the commander of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, based in La Union, during the April 2012 standoff with Chinese ships at the Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal, about 124 nautical miles from Zambales.
The standoff initially involved the Navy's BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which withdrew and replaced by two Coast Guard ships. The Coast Guard vessels also withdrew due to inclement weather, leaving the shoal under the de facto control of China until now.
Taccad commanded many ships during his career, including the presidential yacht BRP Ang Pangulo from 2003 to 2005, during the time of then President Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative. Arroyo is on a hospital arrest for a plunder charge.