File photo by Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Lieutenant General Benjamin Madrigal Jr is the next chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.
"Next chief of staff is Lt Gen Benjamin Madrigal," Año confirmed to Rappler in a text message late Tuesday night, December 4.
Año's confirmation came amid Camp Aguinaldo buzz that a more junior officer, incumbent Army chief Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, was going to get it.
Madrigal is set to replace General Carlito Galvez Jr, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on December 12.
Since November 2017, Madrigal has been the chief of the Davao-based Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), where he has been leading operations against the communist New People's Army.
Prior to his approaching appointment, Madrigal was described by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as the "number one" on his list of Galvez's possible replacement which he had submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Madrigal was even Galvez's closest competitor for the top military post before the latter was eventually named chief of staff in April.
Last October, he was also a contender for the top Army post, which eventually went to the more junior Alberto, a 1986 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Madrigal belongs to the PMA Sandiwa Class of 1985, the same class as Galvez and retired army chief and now Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista.
Before Eastmincom, Madrigal beefed up his service reputation as commander of the Southern Luzon Command, and the Cagayan de Oro-based 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Madrigal is set to retire in September 2019. – Rappler.com