THE Philippine Air Force (PAF) will have a new commanding general today when incumbent chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz officially steps down from his post five days ahead of his mandatory retirement age of 56.
Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol on Thursday said President Aquino would lead the change-of-command ceremonies in the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas where Dela Cruz started his career as a military pilot.
“The commanding general wished to retire in the place where he started, which is Fernando Air Base, where most, if not all, pilots started their careers,” Okol said.
Okol said the new PAF commanding general would be chosen from among the four senior generals that the Board of Generals (BOG) submitted to the President through the secretary of national defense.
The four leading candidates are Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Virgilio Domingo of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1081, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans (J5) Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado (PMA, 1982), 3rd Air Division Commander Maj. Gen. Nicanor Vivar (PMA, 1982) and Chief of Air Staff Maj. Gen. Edgar Fallorina (PMA, 1983).
Asked who among the four had the edge, Okol said he had no idea even as he stressed that all were qualified.
“Even the commanding general does not know. It’s up to the President to decide. Historically, it is announced a day before or on the day itself [of the turnover],” Okol added.
Dela Cruz, a member of the PMA “Mapitagan” Class of 1980, is the 23rd commanding general of the Air Force. He assumed the post in January, 2012.
Military rules mandate officers and enlisted personnel to retire at the age of 56.
But two and three-star ranks officials can also be retired in compliance with the military attrition law which sets a three-year maximum tenure for senior generals.
The law requires major generals (two-star) and lieutenant generals (three-star) to retire if not promoted to the next higher rank three years before retirement.