Legazpi City under urban militarization by Palparan man, claims activists

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LEGASPI CITY, Albay (BicolToday.com/28-Mar-2013) – Reports of strong military personnel presence in this highly urbanized city has reached BicolToday.com over the week, causing cause-oriented groups to raise alarming calls that “urban militarization” is taking place in this premier city in Albay Province.

The military officer allegedly in-charge of “urban militarization” of Legaspi City was reported as closely linked with (then) Army General Jovito Palparan Jr. when the latter had been involved in counter-insurgency operations, and was allegedly involved in many rights abuses committed on civilians, abductions, and enforced disappearances.

Human rights watchdog Karapatan-Bicol on Saturday revealed that one of the military officers allied with former Army General Palparan Jr. is taking charge of the counter-insurgency campaign in the urban barangays of Legaspi City, Albay province.

“The progressives and ordinary people of the main capital of Albay and the entire Bicol Region are placed under the spyglass of an extreme danger posed by Oplan Bayanihan, headed by Col. Ricardo Visaya, a military protégé’ of The Butcher and certified Godfather of Extra Judicial Killing who is no other than former Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.,” said Karapatan-Bicol Vince Casilihan in a press statement.

“Col. Visaya, who possess the same quality and fascist mindset of Palparan, is set to spread state terror in the heart of Bicolandia as head of the peace and development council of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Bicol region,” Casilihan stressed.

Karapatan-Bicol  said Col. Visaya has placed at least 8 barangays in Legaspi City under the AFP watch where several progressive organizations and partylist groups are based.

In the past years, militarization has been taking place in the rural areas and hinterlands of the Bicol provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate. but not in the urban areas.

Casilihan lamented that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR-Bicol) had given the go-signal for Army troops under the command of Col. Visaya to use barangay halls, day care centers, chapels and other public edifices for their counter-insurgency campaign in the urban areas of Legaspi City.

The human rights group revealed that Col. Visaya, who has been allegedly Palparan’s main partner in various extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of leftwing activists between 2004-2010 under Oplan Bantay Laya, is now allegedly the chief executive officer of urban militarization which targets Bicolano activists based in urban areas and ordinary members of militant organizations and partylist groups.

The human rights group claimed that President Aquino has commissioned the service of Palparan-trained Col. Visaya, a veteran of Oplan Bantay Laya during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. That time, Palparan had been suspect in the mass murder of activists in Central Luzon where over 100 activists were executed and assassinated by suspected state military forces.

Karapatan-Bicol said Col. Visaya was allegedly implicated in other human rights violations during his stint  as commander of Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion in the National Capital Region (NCR) from February  2007 to September 2007. [BicolToday.com]

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