CA confirms promotion of Army general blamed for Maguindanao massacre, 88 others
MANILA, Philippines – An Army officer who had rejected a request to provide a military escort for the 58 people, including 32 journalists and other media workers, who were killed in the Maguindanao massacre nearly five years ago has been promoted.
Among the 89 military officers confirmed by the Commission on Appointments last Wednesday was Brigadier General Medardo Geslani, Deputy Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, the military announced Thursday.
“Geslani is a well decorated military officer that excelled in both combat and administrative duties,” AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Lt. Col. Harold M Cabunoc said in a statement.
“He was assigned as the Commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, 6th Infantry Division that operated in several areas in Central Mindanao. He was also the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the Philippine Army and Commanding Officer of the Joint Task Force GENSAN,” he added.
Geslani, a member of Philippine Military Academy Sandigan Class of 1982, has received numerous awards in his over 30 years of outstanding service. He was a recipient of two Distinguished Conduct Stars, the AFP’s 2nd highest award; five Distinguished Service Stars; thirteen Gold Cross Medals; and twelve Bronze Cross Medals.
He was also recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers in 1998 in the combat category.
The 89 military officers confirmed by the CA were led by Lieutenant General Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, commander of Northern Luzon Command. He was joined by five Major Generals/Rear Admirals, and 12 Brigadier Generals.
NUJP slams promotion of Geslani
But the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines slammed the confirmation by the CA.
“To promote Geslani would be to reward him for his role in wilfully failing to prevent one of the most heinous crimes in Philippine history – the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, which saw 58 persons mercilessly slaughtered, 32 of them our colleagues,” the NUJP said.
“It is a fact that, before the convoy of now Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu set out on its ill-fated journey to Shariff Aguak to file his certificate of candidacy, Geslani and his former commanding officer, then Major General Alfredo Cayton, were among those whose help had been sought to provide security because of the very serious threats of violence that had already been floating about days before. These requests were ignored,” it added.
The victims were on their way to Sultan Kudarat on November 23, 2009 to file the certificate of candidacy of Mangudadatu for the 2010 elections to challenge a member of the powerful Ampatuan clan for the position but they were massacred. They reportedly requested for security escort but were denied.
Both Geslani and Cayton claimed that “they had no inkling that anything was amiss.”
“This could be nothing but a brazen lie since it is also on record that, at least three days before the massacre, the provincial police of Maguindanao, whose leadership was clearly in collusion with those who ordered and carried out the mass murder, had set up checkpoints on the highway through which the convoy was expected to pass. Surely, the vaunted intelligence network that the military never fails to boast of would have known of this,” the NUJP said.
“Confirming Geslani’s promotion would add another injustice to the long string of injustices visited on the victims of the Ampatuan massacre and their families…Officers such as Geslani are not only a disgrace to the service and their uniform but are clearly a threat to our freedoms,” it added.
The Philippine Army had previously said that investigators and the Ombudsman had absolved Geslani of any accountability.
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