BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Another Negrense has been appointed chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, a native of Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental, who used to be the company commander of the 11th Infantry Battalion, then stationed in Brgy. Burgos, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental at the height of the insurgency problem in northern Negros, was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to replace AFP chief, Gen. Gilbert Gapay, who will retire from the military service on Feb. 4.
Malacañang spokesperson Harry Roque said yesterday that the Palace believes in Sobejana’s competence to lead the AFP.
“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 protector of the people and the State,” Roque said.
Sobejana is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1987, and is the commanding general of the Philippine Army. His appointment as AFP chief came more than a decade after Gen. Victor Ibrado, of Sagay City, Negros Occidental, was designated to lead the AFP in 2009 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Ibrado had also served as commander of the 11th Infantry Battalion.
Sobejana is a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the country’s highest military award that is equivalent to the Congressional Medal of Honor of the United States. He earned his MOV in 1995 after leading the fight with an estimated 150 Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Isabela town, Basilan despite sustaining crippling wounds in the encounter.
Another Negrense, Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, a native of Victorias City, Negros Occidental, was reported to be among the candidates being considered as the next Army chief.
Ancan, who belongs also to PMA Class 1987, is presently the commanding general of the AFP Central Command in the Visayas.
In a statement it issued, the AFP welcomed the designation of Sobejana as its 55th chief-of-staff. “Lt. Gen Sobejana is highly respected even outside the Philippine Army, given his impressive track record in every command he holds. He is known to his superiors, peers, and subordinates as a warrior with the heart of a peacemaker. He is the pride of PMA “Hinirang” Class of 1987 — the class with 3 Medal of Valor recipients— and the first AFP chief who has garnered the MOV,” he statement added.*with report from PNA