Army chief Lt. Gen Arturo Ortiz, is among those being considered for the position of Armed Forces chief of staff to be named in March.
The AFP chief position is usually given to the commanding general of the Philippine Army, a top military official, whose identity is being withheld, said.
He cited the case of former Army chiefs Victor Ibrado, Alexander Yano, Hermogenes Esperon, Delfin Bangit, among others. But added that it is President Benigno Aquino III who has the final say on who the next AFP chief will be.
AFP chief Ricardo David who is reaching the mandatory age retirement of 56, will be retire on March 8 this year.
As a young captain of the defunct 606th Special Forces Company, Ortiz led the assault on the New People’s Army camp in Sitio Manipulon, Brgy. Pandanon, Murcia, on April 6, 1990, which was occupied by about 200 armed rebels.
During the gunbattle, 85 rebels killed, eight others captured and more than 30 high-powered firearms were recovered, military records showed.
For this, he received the Medal of Valor, the highest military award given by the AFP, which is conferred by the President.
The Medal of Valor was awarded to him by the late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, mother of incumbent President Aquino who appointed him as Army chief last year.
Ortiz is also a recipient of four Distinguished Service Stars, three Gold Cross Medals, four Bronze Cross Medals, four Military Merit Medals for Combat, and 17 Military Merit Medals for Administration, Military Commendation Medals, Letters of Commendation and Appreciation, and various campaign medals and ribbons.
AFP vice chief of staff Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu. Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban, AFP deputy chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, who served as assistant 3rd Infantry Division commander, and Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, are the other qualified contenders for the chief position in the AFP.
Ortiz, Oban and Pangilinan belong to Class ’79 of the Philippine Military Academy, and Mapagu and Rabena to PMA Class ’78.
After his assignment in Negros Occidental, Ortiz occupied several key positions, including commander of the elite Special Forces Regiment and Special Operations Command, posts also occupied by Ibrado, who was later designated Army chief and AFP chief of staff.* GPB