A “dark horse” is likely to emerge as the next commanding general of the Army to replace Lieutenant General Noel Coballes who will retire on February 7.
Sources at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City who are knowledgeable of the promotion told Manila Standard that Malacañang was eyeing Major Gen. Ricardo Visaya, present commander of the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, to appoint him to the coveted Army position.
When contacted through his mobile phone, he said, “It’s (Army position) the prerogative of the President”.
Visaya is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983. He will retire in December 2016.
A ranking military officer said Visaya’s name was not in the “final shortlist” of contenders recommended by the Board of Generals.
“As of now, all indications point to him as the next Army chief,” the general said.
Early birds whose names had cropped up as contenders include Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang (PMA “Dimalupig” Class 1981) and 7th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, classmate of Visaya.
Some interviewed field commanders have favored the appointment of Visaya rather than Catapang or Iriberri.
“He (Visaya) does not play with politics. That’s the good thing we liked him so much. In fact, majority of field commanders silently vote for him than anybody else,” one battalion commander said.
Visaya, among other generals, wass recently promoted to two-star general.
He suceeded Maj. Gen. Nestor Anonuevo as division commander after the ambush that nearly killed 79-year-old Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie de Lara Guingona, mother of Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, by communist rebels.
Visaya commanded the 69th Infantry Battalion covering Tarlac and Pampanga at the time authorities dispersed a rally of thousands of Luisita farmers that went violent and resulted in the death of a protester.