The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights expressed concern over the announcement made by presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte that he is leaning towards appointing Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya as the next chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“We are concerned about the recent announcement of President-elect Duterte choosing Gen. Visaya as next AFP Chief. The said general has a bloody human rights record. Known as a protege of the notorious Gen. Jovito Palparan, Gen. Visaya as chief of 69th Infantry Battalion was behind numerous human rights violations against workers and unions as well as urban poor when the government of Gloria-Arroyo implemented the counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2,” Daisy Arago CTUHR Executive Director said.
The bloody dispersal of striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita in 2004 is just one of the many brutal handiworks of Gen. Ricardo Visaya, the preferred candidate of President-elect Duterte as next AFP Chief
The labor rights group explained that Gen. Visaya was the commander of the 69th IB that was among state security forces responsible for the massacre of the striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita in 2004. The members 69th IB under Gen Jovito Palparan’s 7th ID Philippine Army were also responsible for harassment of urban poor members and leaders. The military during the height of urban militarization in 2006 painted X marks on doors of homes of known members and local leaders’ of Kadamay which was believed to be a death warrant thus forcing some residents to flee. A fisherfolk leader in Bulacan was murdered following the X mark sign on his door. A month after, the houses marked with X in Pampanga were illegally searched thus further threatening residents.
“Visaya was also responsible for urban militarization and civil-military operations in Metro Manila and other urban centers in 2007 that resulted in strings of harassment cases particularly of urban poor, workers and youth leaders. He also headed the 27th IB which enforced massive vilification campaign, threats and harassment of officers and members of the local union of Kilusang Mayo Uno in the pineapple plantations of Dolefil in Polomolok, Cotabato in 2011,” Arago explained.
“We urge incoming-President Duterte to review and rethink his preference for Gen. Visaya as the next AFP chief especially as these cases of trade union and human rights violations have already been subjects of the ILO High Level Mission in 2009. We deem that any government who intend to create meaningful change and pave way for just peace cannot afford to have as head of its military somebody whose record of human rights is heavily tainted with blood,” Arago added.###