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Who is Carlito Galvez, the AFP’s next chief?

Not only he has played a key role in ending the five-month siege laid by ISIS-inspired Maute group in the war-torn Marawi City, the incoming chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is also a peace advocate as he had worked closely with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to keep the ceasefire intact after the Mamasapano bloodbath in 2015.

Battle-seasoned Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, who is the current commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), will replace AFP chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, whose term had been extended by President Rodrigo Duterte last December.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy "Sandiwa" Class of 1985, Galvez served as one of the best leaders during the Marawi siege on May 23 last year, which resulted in the killing of terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.

The AFP said Galvez as Wesmincom commander "provided strategic direction and inspiration and deployed forces and to successfully rescue the civilian hostages, neutralize Isnilon Hapilon, all the Maute brothers and terrorists, and clear Marawi."

Galvez was even conferred with the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kamagi Medal) for his "outstanding performance as the unified commander during the liberation of Marawi City."

The 55-year-old Galvez was the battalion commander of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion and was also the youngest military officer to command the Basilan-based 104th Infantry Brigade from 2012 to 2013 where he led military operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Peace process with MILF

In 2015, Galvez served as the chairman of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities for the government side in the peace process with the MILF.

A Joint Ceasefire Crisis Team was immediately formed by Galvez and GPH-CCCH secretariat Director Carlos Sol after they learned that MILF members and Special Action Force commandos engaged in a firefight in Maguindanao on January 25, 2015, which left 44 elite policemen, 17 MILF combatants and five civilians dead.

The team's mission was to "negotiate a ceasefire, separate the two contending forces, assist in the evacuation of casualties, assess the situation of internally displaced persons, and help stabilize the situation."

Months later, Galvez was installed as deputy chief of staff for operations (J3) of the AFP and as commander of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao before was appointed as Wesmincom chief.

Meanwhile, it was also under Galvez as Wesmincom chief where 436 Abu Sayyaf members, 276 communist rebels, 311 members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and 1,065 Maute members were neutralized and a total of 1,343 loose firearms were recovered.

Galvez is experienced in the fields of combat and intelligence operations, leadership development, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance, strategic management, systems dynamics modeling, and peace-building, negotiation and mediation.

He was the class president and valedictorian of the AFP Command and General Staff College.

While he has been in the military service for more than 34 years, Galvez had also finished his Master’s Degree in Project Management from the University of New South Wales in Australia and Leadership Executive Education from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

He had been conferred with numerous awards such as the Philippine Legion of Honor, three Distinguished Service Stars, two Outstanding Achievement Medals, six Gold Cross Medals, eight Bronze Cross Medals, 40 Military Merit and Commendation Medals and the Wounded Personnel Medal.

He was also named as one of The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers in 2007 and recipient of the United States Eisenhower Fellowships in 2006.

Galvez said his "experience as a peacemaker could be an advantage" for his new role which he is set to assume on April 18. He is set to retire on December 12.

"I would like to thank the President for the trust and confidence. I would like to make this opportunity that I will do my best with honor, integrity, and loyalty that I will serve the President...the best way I can," Galvez said. 

Galvez is married with one daughter to Marissa, an international flight purser of Philippine Airlines. — RSJ/KBK, GMA News