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Gapay takes oath as 54th AFP chief of staff today

Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay will officially take the helm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership as its 54th Chief of Staff in a change of command ceremony set on Monday at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Gapay will succeed General Felimon Santos Jr., who is set for compulsory retirement upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 for military personnel on Tuesday, August 4.

“General Santos will render his final salute as a soldier on Monday, August 3,” said Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will preside the joint change of command and retirement ceremonies set at 10 a.m.

President Duterte, who is also the AFP Commander-in-Chief, will not be able to attend the ceremonies since he has “prior commitments,” Arevalo said.

“We’re not sure yet but he may be sending his message… virtual message. It is not yet confirmed,” he said.

Arevalo maintained though that the President’s absence “will not dampen the spirit and solemnity of the event,” citing the unavoidable circumstances prompted by the current pandemic.

Only a limited number of attendees were invited for the three-part event as part of safety and health precautions.

The first part of the ceremonies will be the arrival honors that is traditionally rendered to the incoming Chief of Staff. It will be done in front of the Lapu-Lapu Grandstand.

The second part will be the change of command while the last part will be the retirement honors for the outgoing Chief of Staff. Both will be held at the Tejeros Hall of the Commissioned Officer’s Club (COC).

“There are very limited attendees, the program will be short unlike the previous years where the traditions and ceremonies were really long,” Arevalo said.

However, Arevalo noted that the ceremonies will be livestreamed in the different platforms of the AFP so that the public may be able to watch it.

“It will be shown via livestreaming in our different platforms. Other AFP personnel who won’t be accommodated in the COC will be staying at the Grandstand where they can watch the livestream,” he said.

Meanwhile, a virtual press briefing will follow at 10:30 a.m. where Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Gapay will be the talking heads.

Gapay and Santos are classmates or “mistah” at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Sinagtala” Class of 1986. Gapay graduated on top of his class.

Prior to being the AFP Chief, Gapay was appointed as the 61st Commanding General of the Philippine Army on December 6, 2019.

He has been serving for 34 years in various command and staff positions including as commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM); the former Mechanized Infantry Division now called Armor “Pambato” Division; the Army Aviation Regiment; and Joint Task Force Haribon in Mega Davao.

He also commanded the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Lanao del Sur; 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Central Luzon; 36th Infantry (Valor) Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division in Agusan Province; 23rd Light Armor Company and the 52nd Mechanized Infantry Company in Central Mindanao. 

He holds a Master’s Degree in Management from the Philippine Christian University, and is also a graduate of the Air Traffic Control Officer Course at the Air Education Training Center, United States Air Force; Emergency Management Seminar, Australian Defense Force; and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Training Seminar with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

He is a recipient of several awards and decorations including the Philippine Legion of Honor, four Distinguished Service Stars; four Gold Cross Medals for gallantry in action, and Outstanding Achievement Medal, among others.

Meanwhile, Santos will bow out of service after 38 years in the military.

He has served as AFP Chief for 212 days, having been appointed on January 4, 2020.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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