CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/04 September) – President Benigno Aquino III has yet to designate the commanders of two major Armed Forces of the Philippines area commands and two Army divisions based in Luzon and Mindanao, Philippine Army chief Emmanuel Bautista said Tuesday.
Bautista said the AFP Southern Luzon Command covering the Bicol peninsula and the Cebu-based AFP Central Command still has no commanders and are led by staff officers on temporary status.
He added the 5th Infantry Division based in Isabela, Cagayan and the 4th Infantry Division based in Camp Evangelista here are also being led by staff officers on temporary capacity.
Brig. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, chief of the Malaybalay City-based 403rd Infantry Brigade, assumed command of the 4th Infantry Division after its commanding general, Major Gen. Victor Felix, stepped down from military service today after reaching the compulsory retirement age of 56.
“We have already presented the list of officers who are qualified to assume command but President Aquino has yet to sign the order,” Bautista told reporters during the turnover ceremonies in Camp Evangelista.
He denied that the delay of the signing has something to do with next year’s midterm elections.
He said the AFP will stay neutral and will only help in the implementation of a peaceful and orderly election next year.
The assumption of staff officers of the major commands and units on temporary capacity has raised speculations. Normally, the AFP designates a replacement once the commanding officer reaches retirement age.
Sources told MindaNews that the AFP Board of Generals has reportedly chosen Major Gen. Ray Ardo, currently the 6th Infantry Division chief to lead the AFP Central Command.
The Board of Generals also has chosen Major General Allan Luga to head the AFP Southern Luzon Command.
In the case of the 4ID, the board selected Brig. Gen. Nestor Anonuevo to replace Felix. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)