AFP Chief General Gapay, 29 other senior military officers pass CA scrutiny

The Commission on Appointments (CA) gave its consent to the nomination of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lieutenant General Gilbert I. Gapay to the rank of General and approved the ad interim appointments of 29 other senior military officers, today in its hybrid plenary session, presided by Senate President/Chairman of the Commission Vicente C. Sotto III.

The CA Committee on National Defense, presided over by committee Vice Chairperson Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, deliberated on and recommended these appointments for confirmation to the plenary with no objections raised. CA’s endorsement of Gapay’s nomination came after the AFP chief convincingly expressed his point and position on various issues such as the terrorist bombing in Sulu, killing of four soldiers in Jolo and Chinese military posture in the West Philippine Sea, among others. He also clarified that his arguments on the “regulation” of social media in the country is not in any way intended to curtail the right to free speech or freedom of expression. “This regulation is not tantamount to curtailment of people’s freedom… The goal of this regulation is to make social media platforms, service providers more liable for the content they host,” Gapay told the CA panel.

The hybrid committee meeting was attended by Lacson and Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III in person with other CA Members attending the video conference virtually. Following the amended provision in the New Rules of the Commission and the Rules of the Standing Committees, all but one of the AFP appointees were physically present during the deliberations.

Gapay, 55, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Sinagtala” Class of 1986 and a classmate of former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr., was appointed as the 54th AFP Chief of Staff last August 3, 2020. Among the notable members belonging to his class are Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, retired PNP Chief Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, retired PNP Chief Police Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and retired LtGen. and former Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Macairog Alberto, who was recently nominated as Ambassador to Israel. Prior to his appointment as AFP chief, Gapay served as the commanding general of the Philippine Army from December 2019 until August 2020; commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (January – December 2019) and commander of the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID), Philippine Army (December 2017 – January 2019).

His professional military and educational trainings include having completed his Australian and Military Familiarization Course, Defence International Training Center (DITC), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williams, Laverton, Victoria, Australia, 2006; Command and General Staff Course, AFP Command and General Staff College, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Metro Manila, 2005 (2nd of 120 graduates; Rating: 95.43%) ; Armor Officer Advanced Course, Armor Service Extension School, Light Armor Brigade, Fort Andres Bonifacio, Taguig, Metro Manila, 1995 (1st place; Rating: 96.41%); Air Traffic Control Officer Course, Air Education Training Center, United States Air Force, USA, 1993 (1st place; Rating: 98%); Armor Officer Basic Course, Armor Service Extension School, Training Command, Philippine Army (PA), Fort Andres Bonifacio, Taguig, Metro Manila, 1992 (1st place; Rating: 97.76%); Basic Aviators Course, Aerostar Flying School, Pasay City, Metro Manila, 1989 (1st place; Rating: 97.55%); Scout Ranger Orientation Course, Scout Ranger Training Center, First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR), Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Philippine Army (PA), Camp Brig. Gen. Mateo M. Capinpin, Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, 1986 (4th place; Rating: 88.48%); Bachelor of Science, Philippine Military Academy, Fort General Gregorio H. del Pilar, Loakan Road, Baguio City, Benguet, 1986 (1st of 174 graduates / Presidential Saber Awardee; Rating: 90.15%). He had his Master’s degree in Management at the Philippine Christian University, Manila and completed his Strategic Business Economics Program, University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), Pasig City, Metro Manila in 1992. He also earned units in Bachelor of Arts in Business Management, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Metro Manila in 1982.

Gapay started his military career in 1982 as a cadet at the PMA, graduating at the top of his class in 1986, and was initially deployed as platoon leader, Charlie Company, 36th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army. He rose from the ranks in the army organizational hierarchy to assume various significant field and staff positions in the various geographical locations of the country, until his designation as the 54th AFP Chief of Staff and his subsequent nomination to the rank of General. A decorated soldier and officer, he was a recipient of various awards, honors and citations, such as, the Outstanding Achievement Award, Distinguished Service Stars, Gold Cross Medals and Meritorious Achievement Medal, among others.

In his sponsorship speech at the plenary session, Lacson said that the defense panel has determined that “all of the 29 appointees and one nominee are fit and qualified to the ranks which they are respectively promoted or nominated.” He spoke highly of General Gapay and stressed that the AFP chief, a fellow cavalier, has graduated at the top of his Sinagtala Class obtaining the most number of awards during his graduation rites “giving him the notoriety as the most decorated cadet in the history of PMA.” Lacson also mentioned that Gapay continues to earn his laurels in the long course of his career and highlighted the AFP chief’s vast experience as a decorated officer. Sens. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Risa Hontiveros seconded Lacson’s motion to have Gapay’s nomination get the CA nod. In his seconding speech, Pimentel, Gapay’s batchmate at the Ateneo de Manila University, also lauded the AFP chief’s competence and fitness as “a leader, who is a man of honor, service, patriotism with vast experiences, notable achievements and qualifications befitting the rank of general, making him the highest military officer in the AFP” capable of fulfilling the AFP’s constitutional mandate. Hontiveros, likewise, expressed her deep pride and great joy in supporting the confirmation of her “mistah” AFP Chief General Gapay. “Truly, he is not only one of the best and brightest of our class but he is also one of the best and brightest of our generation,” she added.

Other ad interim appointments in the AFP approved by the Commission were those of:

Jose C. Faustino, Jr.to the rank of Lieutenant General
Franco Nemesio M. Gacalto the rank of Lieutenant General
Gilbert F. Saretto the rank of Major General
Alfredo V. Rosario Jr.to the rank of Major General
Ma Noel T. Tolentinoto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Army
Franc Y. Mananquilto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Army
Enerito D. Lebecoto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Army
Rolando M. Paredesto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Army
Joel M. Lazoto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
Ariel S. Palisocto the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Mateo G. Caridoto the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Norsal D. Dimaporoto the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Dennis F. Hernandezto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
Hilario C. De Vera Jr.to the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
Zaldy A. Dionedato the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
Jose Rene P. Nartatesto the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Romel T. Marcosto the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Joseph S. Tobiasto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
Stephen A. Tuballato the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Filomeno P. Carreonto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
Levi C. Caraneto the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Emerson M. Delos Santosto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
John E. De Villato the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Stephen L. Cabanletto the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy (Marines)
Edwina Lucresia M. Taylorto the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy
Eisen M. Perdidoto the rank of Colonel, Dental Service
Rogelio Jerico V. Bonaguato the rank of Colonel, Dental Service
Allan V. Gulapato the rank of Colonel, Nurse Corps