Duterte names Army head as new Armed Forces chief of staff

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has appointed Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, the commanding general of the Philippine Army, as the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces, the presidential palace said on Wednesday.

“We are confident that General Sobejana will continue to modernize our military and undertake reform initiatives to make the Armed Forces truly professional in its mandate as the protector of the people and the state,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. told reporters in a Viber message.

Mr. Sobejena will succeed outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay, who will retire on Feb. 4.

He is the eighth military chief under the Duterte administration and will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on July 31.

Mr. Sobejana is among those who got the country’s highest military award for  courage, the Medal of Valor, an award equivalent to the congressional Medal of Honor of the US, according to the Philippine Army website.

This was after he led a 16-man team of Scout Rangers in a close-quarter encounter with more than 100 Abu Sayyaf fighters in Basilan province in the country’s south in 1995.

The President in 2019 gave him the Philippine Legion of Honor for serving the country for more than 30 years.

He will take over the helm of one of the weakest military forces in Asia, which is being criticized for its supposed inaction on the aggression of Chinese troops in the West Philippine Sea. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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