The race for the highest post at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be between three senior military officers, according to an informed source.
AFP Gen. Ricardo Visaya, a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1983, is set to retire from military service next month when he turns 56 years old, the mandatory retirement age for military and police personnel.
Among those purportedly shortlisted for the post are AFP Vice Chief Lt. Glorioso Miranda, Army Chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año and Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., the commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID).
The source said Madrigal, a member of the PMA’s “Sandiwa” Class of 1985 and the youngest of the three, may have an edge because his mandatory retirement in 2019 would sync with a pending bill in Congress that would give the AFP chief of staff a fixed three-year term.
He also said Madrigal had worked with President Rodrigo Duterte during his tour as a young field commander in the Davao region.
Miranda and Año are classmates of Visaya, the second member of PMA “Matikas” Class of 1983 to become the AFP COS.
The first member of PMA class 1983 to be appointed as AFP chief was Gen. Hernando Iriberri.
Iriberri retired from military service early this year.
The source, however, said the perceived closeness of Miranda and Año to former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin could work against them.
He added that the commander of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista, a classmate of Madrigal, could pull off a surprise notwithstanding his rank since the president is empowered to appoint a full colonel as AFP chief.
The source cited the case of Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa, who was a police chief superintendent, the equivalent of a military brigadier general, when Duterte promoted him.
Dela Rosa is a member of PMA “Sinagtala” Class of 1986.