New Army chief assumes post

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Friday, February 7, 2014

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III on Friday named Major General Hernando Iriberri as the new head of the Philippine Army.

Iriberri, commander of the Army's 7th Infantry Division prior to his appointment, succeeded Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, who retired from the service after more than 37 years.

In the change of command ceremony at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Aquino told Iriberri to continue with the transformation of the 80,000-strong Army.

"Hindi naman po biro ang iiwang puwang ni Lieutenant General Coballes sa kanyang pagbaba sa puwesto. Kaya naman marapat lamang na mahusay at maaasahang pinuno din ang humalili sa kanya—ito ay walang iba kundi si Major General Hernando Iriberri," he said in a speech.

He cited Iriberri's achievements, such as the holding of the most peaceful elections in Abra last year wherein the new Army chief was then the commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade covering the province.

"Balita ko rin, ang tawag sa kanya sa AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ay code 'Superman.' Lagi daw kasi siyang nangingibabaw sa mga pisikal na pagsasanay. Bilang bagong pinuno, umaasa akong pambihirang lakas, disiplina, at dedikasyon din ang ibubuhos mo upang ipagpatuloy ang transpormasyon ng Hukbong Katihan," Aquino said.

Iriberri is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983 and he also served as the senior military adviser of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

The President also thanked Coballes for the reforms that he initiated in the military, such as the implementation of the Army Transformation Roadmap and the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.

"Kay Lieutenant General Coballes: Sa ngalan ng sambayanan, saludo ako sa inialay mong serbisyo sa kapwa at bandila," he said.

Coballes turned 56 on Friday, the mandatory retirement age of a soldier.

In his speech, Coballes shared his secret of being a good leader.

"My guide during my career is to listen to my troops," he said. "I hope I will be remembered not for how many stars I earned on my shoulders, but how I wore them."

The outgoing army chief also emotionally honored his wife and four daughters as his "real heroes" who were then gave him flowers, hugged him and kissed him.

Coballes served in the military for more than three decades.(SDR/Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

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