Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri. Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri
(Updated 10:22 a.m.) The commanding general of the Philippine Army has been named the new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Lt. General Hernando Iriberri, who has been at the helm of the Army since February 2014, takes over the top military post as Gen. Gregorio Catapang retires from the military service. Iriberri is the 46th chief of staff of the military.
Aquino is presiding over the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo on Friday morning and was seen seated beside Iriberri minutes before the program started.
Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak, in his prayer for Iriberri during the ceremony, asked for God to bless the new AFP chief “with the gift of stillness to be able to listen to the desires of the Commander-in-Chief and President Benigno Aquino.”
A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, Iriberri is closely identified with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, for whom he served as spokesman and senior military assistant in the past.
A senior military official said Iriberri was a last-minute choice of President Benigno Aquino III, besting at least three other strong contenders including Southern Luzon Command Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya (PMA Class 83), Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado (PMA 82) and Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez (PMA 82).
Iriberri previously served a commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade in the Cordillera region, and Chief of United Command Staff of the Southern Luzon Command.
With more than 30 years in active military service, he has received numerous awards, including five Distinguished Service Stars, two Gold Cross Medals, one Bronze Cross Medal, and several Military Merit Medals and Military Commendation Medals.