Farmworkers slammed Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya for his desperate ploy to wash his hands of responsibility in the Hacienda Luisita massacre so as to stay as top contender as chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the administration of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) Secretary General Danilo Ramos said that Gen. Visaya is resorting to blatant lies to clear his name. Visaya was quoted in news reports denying his infantry unit’s (69th IB) role in the dispersal operations which killed seven farmworkers and wounded hundreds more.
Visaya outrageously claimed that he was never investigated nor charged in connection with the incident. UMA said that it is of public knowledge that the PNP’s CIDG and the NBI submitted investigative reports which recounted then Col. Visaya’s role in the Nov. 16, 2004 massacre.
“We would like to remind Gen. Visaya that he was among the respondents in the January 2005 complaint filed at the Office of the Ombudsman by more than 50 survivors of the Luisita massacre. Outgoing President BS Aquino, Gen. Visaya, and retired Gen. Catapang, whom BS Aquino shamelessly appointed as AFP Chief during his administration, were among those charged with multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, multiple attempted murder, physical injuries, malicious mischief, theft, grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of a public official,” said Ramos.
UMA reiterated that the complaints were actually “killed” twice during BS Aquino’s reign. Complaints against the police and military were dropped shortly after Aquino held power in 2010, while the survivors’ motion to reopen the case in 2014 was immediately junked. Survivors lament that the case was dismissed based solely on NBI reports, which ironically stated that there is basis to file charges against erring officials and that the testimonies of the survivors and protesters were more credible than that of the involved government personnel. The farmers’ complaints were junked without any other effort to conduct hearings or a more thorough investigation.
Furthermore, in a sworn statement made by respondent Capt. Gerry Pingen, which appeared in the NBI report, he described then Col. Visaya’s role during the massacre. In particular, he mentioned that Visaya through his cell phone ordered him to position the combat vehicles at the right side of the compound, fronting the gate. Visaya and Catapang are known to be the commanders of military units which opened fire at the unarmed protesters during the bloody dispersal.
The said NBI report on Hacienda Luisita only became public in November 2014, ten years after the massacre. By that time, the Ombudsman already junked the motion to reopen the case.
Farmers vow to revive their complaints as they hope that the incoming Duterte administration would be keen in dispensing justice for the victims of the massacre and other crimes committed thereafter such as the string of extra-judicial killings and the recent atrocities by the BS Aquino regime, including bulldozing of crops, burning of huts, physical injuries and illegal arrests.
“Gen. Visaya cannot simply erase his crimes with lies. Going after Aquino and his minions should not be seen as Duterte merely going after his political opponents. Grave crimes were committed. The injustice done to the victims and survivors must now be reversed with these murderers promptly investigated and prosecuted, not promoted. Aquino, Visaya, Catapang and all others involved in Luisita and many other atrocities deserve to rot in jail for their crimes against the peasant masses,” said