PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed incumbent Philippine Army commander Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay as the new chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Duterte approved Gapay’s appointment order on Tuesday, July 28, based on the document shared by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to reporters on Wednesday, July 29.
The order is effective August 3, as AFP Chief General Felimon Santos Jr. reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
In a statement, Gapay thanked Duterte for his trust and confidence for him to lead the AFP.
“As your incoming chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we will build on the gains of our predecessors whose labors made the AFP an able agent for the betterment of our people and country,” he said.
“While the lessons of the past always remind us that our purpose is winning over challenges to best serve our people, we will uphold our mandate to protect and secure our country against external and internal threats. In doing so, we will remain accountable to the Filipino people,” he added.
Gapay said he will support and continue pushing for the modernization of the military “to uphold sovereignty and integrity of the national territory.”
He said he will also continue the AFP's goal to be a world-class law enforcement agency as a guide in building a strong, modern and credible military that the nation can be proud of.
“I also assure everyone that the AFP is a force committed to ensure peace, stability, and progress being denied by terrorists and their narratives. Your AFP is a far cry from the grim picture being painted by those against the Anti-Terrorism Law. Your AFP is your protector -- not your enemy,” he said.
“Alongside closely working with agencies of our government and our stakeholders, we will continue to strengthen our cooperation with local and international agencies to bolster our efforts in combating terrorism. I also ask the support of our people in our efforts to keep our country protected and secure,” he added.
Gapay is a member of Philippine Military Academy Sinagtala Class of 1986.
He started his career in the Army with the 36th Infantry (Valor) Battalion, 4th Infantry Division during the height of communist insurgency in Agusan Province.
He was the commander of the 23rd Light Armor Company and the 52nd Mechanized Infantry Company in Central Mindanao during the all-out war in the year 2000.
Gapay also led the battalion of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Light Armor Division when it dismantled and downgraded Guerrilla Fronts in Central Luzon, employing the Bayanihan Operations Concept.
He assumed the leadership of the Philippine Army in December 2019. (SunStar Philippines)