LIEUTENANT General Gilbert Gapay assumed as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff on Monday, August 3, 2020.
In his speech during a simple turnover of command ceremony, Gapay expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for “entrusting me this opportunity to lead the AFP.”
“The AFP has never received such tremendous support as we have at this time under the administration of President Duterte. Your good faith in my leadership means a lot to me, Sir,” he said.
Gapay was the valedictorian of the Philippine Military Academy Sinagtala Class of 1986.
He will retire in February 2021.
As he took the helm of the AFP, Gapay appealed for unity amid the challenges the country is facing particularly against terrorism, fear, lies and deception and the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“For General Emilio Aguinaldo, ‘We cannot free ourselves unless we move forward united in a single desire.’ During that time, he was calling the support of our forefathers to cooperate for our independence,” Gapay said.
“Indeed, there is no better time but now to re- echo General Aguinaldo’s call for unity. While this year, we have seen our AFP respond to terrorism and the impacts of the COVID-19, these threats continue to challenge the capabilities of our Armed Forces, impede our way of life, and diminish our nation’s peace and security,” he added.
Gapay replaced General Felimon Santos Jr., who reached the mandatory retirement age of 56 on August 3.
After assuming as the AFP Chief of Staff in January, Santos’ term met challenges such as the explosion of Taal Volcano, the repatriation of OFWS from the Middle East due to the conflict between US and Iran and the Covid-19 pandemic, that have extensively broadened the scope of the military's responsibilities.
Under his leadership, a total of 3,808 New People's Army members and supporters were neutralized including 134 who were killed and 150 who were apprehended in legitimate and intelligence-driven operations.
Of the total, 3,524 surrendered including armed fighters, underground organization members, and other supporters.
A total of 885 high-powered and low-powered firearms, 313 improvised explosive devices and 164 encampments were seized.
The AFP also neutralized a total of 88 Abu Sayyaf Group personalities, including 37 who were killed and four who were apprehended in numerous military operations.
“Notable also are the 47 who surrendered as a result of the intense military pressure we have exerted over the past five months. A total of 60 high-powered and low-powered firearms, seven IEDs, and nine encampments were also seized during the period,” the AFP said in a statement. (SunStar Philippines)