Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City
February 4, 2021

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte expressed his vote of confidence for the newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana in a Change of Command Ceremony that also saw outgoing AFP Chief-of-Staff General Gilbert Gapay honored with a Retirement Ceremony at the Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“I am confident that under Lieutenant General Sobejana’s leadership, the AFP will achieve even more milestones in its campaign to address insurgency and terror, and put an end to all these threats to our national security,” the Commander-in-Chief said, noting further that this new beginning will bear fruitful collaboration as the military continues to strive as a source of moral strength for its people under the new leadership.

The newly appointed Chief-of-Staff is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1987, making him the first in his class to assume the AFP’s top position. He spent most of his military career in Mindanao fighting militant groups and became a recipient of the Medal of Valor – the country’s highest military award — for his bravery and heroism during an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan back in 1995.

Likewise, the President expressed his genuine gratitude towards General Gapay for his exemplary service in inspiring the country’s military in fighting insurgency, as well as its vital role in containing the pandemic and providing humanitarian assistance during this time.

During General Gapay’s stint as AFP Chief-of-Staff, a total of 1,303 members of the communist terrorist group were killed, captured or voluntarily surrendered. This included 14 high-value individuals and 3,995 who withdrew their support and membership from the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

“Your example of hard work and excellence has set a high standard not only for you and those around you, but most especially for the institution’s future leadership, the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” President Duterte told the outgoing AFP Chief.

“I join the rest in wishing you all the best as you begin a new chapter in your life’s journey. May this bring you and your family a new path to happiness and purpose in your years ahead,” he added.

The President ended his remarks by assuring all the military troops that the government continues to support the promotion of improved welfare and the provision of enhanced military capabilities to keep the peace and safety of the people.

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