Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why Catapang, not Iriberri, got the Top AFP’s Post


President Benigno S. Aquino III graces the Testimonial Review and AFP Change of Command Ceremony at the AFP General Headquarters Grandstand, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City Friday (July 18, 2014). With the President is Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, the new AFP (left), outgoing AFP Chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. (Photo by Gil Nartea/Ryan Lim/Malacanang Photo Bureau)
Until the AK-47s brouhahas, some colonels have been telling me that Police Regional Office-3 Director Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta (Philippine Military Academy 1984) would be the shoo-in, despite bypassing three senior PMA classes 1981, 1982, and 1983 who have still bets for the top police post, after chief PNP Director General Allan Purisima retires this September.
“Matibay iyan. Habang mga mistah (classmates) niya M-16  ang dala-dala sa field noong tinyente pa sila, siya payong para kay Kris Aquino noong panahon ni (President) Cory (Aquno),” one quipped.
Political observers have been wide eyed by Petrasanta’s rise to power.
From being the chief of the envied Firearm & Explosive Office in the police national headquarter to being the top honcho of the chosen Police Regional Office-3 based in Pampanga, he is not only the top gun but have a deputy regional director for administration (DRDO) Chief Superintendent (military rank of a star rank) Wendy Rosario, a member of PMA Class 1982 –  his town mate in Pangasinan and his senior when he was a plebe and Wendy was a junior or cow (3rd year) at the long gray line at Fort del Pilar, Baguio City.
(You can accessed my Petrasanta's article entitled "The Elusive PNP's Top Post" at

Army Chief Lt. General Hernando Iriberri

Until Gregorio Pio Catapang (PMA 81) appointment by President Aquino as the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines last week, the AFP has been rife with rumor that the next chief of staff is either Army Chief Lt. General Hernando Iriberri (PMA ‘83), the protégée and fair haired boy of Cory’s former Presidential Security Group and current Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin or Air Force Chief Lt. General Jeffrey Delgado (PMA ’82) a former senior aide of President Aquino.
In the race for the Army commanding general’s post; Iriberri bypassed Catapang after he replaced him at the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
Why the appointment of Iriberri or Delgadao was scuttled? Was it because Aquino’s approval rating from the Social Weather Station (June 27-30 of +25% only) and Pulse Asia (from 70% in March to 56% in June) plunged from all time low?
 Was it because he and his advisers believe that ramming Iriberri (or Petrasanta incase he is still in the race for the PNP top post) for the top AFP post would be unpopular not only in the military who look for the sacrosanct seniority rule and the masses who would smirk again on the favoritism being practiced by the president?
(You can read my selected columns at and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too

1 comment:

  1. AFP revolving door swings into action
    By Ramon Farolan

    Easily the most famous door in the land is the one that leads to the office of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) chief of staff. It rotates with increasing regularity once a year to welcome the new occupant and just as he begins to warm his chair, the guessing game as to who will replace him starts immediately. My parish priest, the head of our barangay, and the chief of the local police force, stay at their posts longer than the commander of the 125,000-strong AFP, the organization tasked with the mission to defend the people and to guarantee our territorial integrity. But of the officials just mentioned, none is installed with more pomp, more color and ceremony, than the AFP chief of staff.
    Last Friday, in Camp Aguinaldo, in rituals that may have lost some of their luster and meaning because of the frequency of similar events, the 44th, or maybe the 45th, AFP chief was ushered into office as his predecessor bade the troops farewell.
    As a reminder for the Filipino people, this is the AFP chief of staff’s longevity record for the last 14 years under two presidents:
    President Gloria M. Arroyo:
    AFP Chief of Staff Length of service as AFP Chief
    Diomedes Villanueva: One year, three months
    Roy Cimatu: Four months
    Benjamin Defensor: Three months
    Dionisio Santiago: Four months
    Narciso Abaya: One year, seven months
    Efren Abu: Ten months
    Generoso Senga: Eleven months
    Hermogenes Esperon: One year, ten months
    Alexander Yano: One year
    Victor Ibrado: Ten months
    Delfin Bangit: Three months
    President Benigno Aquino III:
    Ricardo David: Eight months
    Eduardo Oban: Ten months
    Jessie Dellosa: Thirteen months

    Emmanuel Bautista: One year, six months
    Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. (Incumbent) Thirteen months (estimated)
    The latest addition to the list is Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., a classmate of Gen. Emmanuel Bautista. Both are members of PMA class 1981.
    An Inquirer story on the new AFP chief cites him as a “climate change buff” who believes that the greatest danger to the country is not the armed threat but “climate change and the disaster it brings.” With the limited resources at his disposal and with only 12 months on the job, he may not be able to do much about the problem. Catapang retires on July 11, 2015, and the gossip now centers on who will succeed him. The line forms to the right.
    Notes on the “change of command” ceremony.
    • The three main speakers of the day—the outgoing chief, General Bautista, his replacement, General Catapang, and the guest of honor, President Aquino—spent much time acknowledging the presence of so many officials and groups; almost every Juan de la Cruz in the bureaucracy was mentioned. I realize that is part of the culture, but we tend to overdo things and, perhaps, a simple line (“distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen”) should suffice to cover all those who believe in the importance of their presence.
    • In remarks after signing his assumption orders, General Catapang lavished praise on his predecessor. In good humor, when it was Bautista’s turn at the podium, he started his speech by saying “after General Catapang’s remarks, I have nothing more to say.”
    • It is not very often that a member of the same class turns over command of the AFP to a batch mate. In the history of the organization, this has happened only seven times.