Catapang is new AFP chief of staff

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Lt Gen Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr is the new Armed Forces chief of staff, Rappler learned on Wednesday, July 16.

Catapang, currently the AFP vice chief of staff, will be replacing Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista, who is retiring on July 20. (Editor's note: We earlier reported he's deputy chief of staff. We regret the error.)

The turnover of command will be on Friday, July 18. 

Rappler learned from two senior officers that Catapang was told about his promotion only today, Wednesday.

A former commanding general of the Northern Luzon Command, Catapang is a 1981 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy and classmate of Bautista. Catapang has barely a year in office as the AFP chief since he is scheduled to retire in July 2015.

He belonged to the Reform the Armed Forces Movement that plotted the revolt against Marcos. He was part of the EDSA rebel force that secured the Radio Veritas station in Quezon City, that was used by the mutinous units to broadcast their anti-Marcos propaganda. The 1986 revolt catapulted Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent President Benigno Aquino III, to the presidency. 

Catapang bested two other contenders to the post of AFP chief: Army chief Lt Gen Hernando Iriberri, former military aide of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Air Force chief Lt Jeffrey Delgado, former aide de camp of the late President Corazon Aquino. 

Year 2014 marked a shake-up in the military's top brass given the retirement of its key commanders. Three more generals holding crucial command posts are retiring this year: 

August 17 — Western Command chief Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda

September 6 — Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Rainer Cruz

September 8 — Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Caesar Ordoyo

Catapang will be the 5th AFP chief of staff under the Aquino administration. - Glenda M. Gloria/Rappler.com