MANILA (UPDATE) - Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay is the next chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a letter to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday, said Gapay would take over the leadership of the military on Aug. 3.
Gapay will replace Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. who is set to retire from military service.
In a statement released Wednesday night, the AFP said it warmly welcomes Gapay's appointment as its new chief of staff.
"His command and leadership philosophies give premium to the welfare of the men and the Filipino people’s support to the AFP ‘s mission accomplishment," it said.
"His attributes of integrity and competence; his vast experience, gained expertise, management acumen, and his genuine interest of people are his assets in leading the AFP at the height of the pandemic and the peak of counter-terrorism operations," the AFP added.
Prior to being appointed in 2019 as head of the military's largest branch, Gapay was chief of the military's Southern Luzon Command.
He also led the military's Mechanized Infantry Division, and served as commander of Joint Task Force Haribon in the Davao region and deputy commander of the Armed Forces' Eastern Mindanao Command.
Gapay graduated at the top of the 1986 "Sinagtala" Class of the Philippine Military Academy.