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Southern Luzon Command's Lt. Gen. Visaya eyed as next AFP chief

Lt. Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya
LEGAZPI CITY -- “To be considered to the post of AFP Chief of Staff is already a big honor. But for now, I am focused on my job as commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (Solcom),” Lt. Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya said in a statement released by Lt. Col. Angelo Guzman, Solcom spokesperson.

Indeed, Visaya might soon leave the leadership of the Solcom as he is being eyed by presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte to be the next head of Armed Forces of the Philippines.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983, he is the 28th chief of the Solcom where he commands all Army, Navy and Air Force units in Region 4-A (Calabarzon), Region 4-B (except Palawan) and Bicol Region, Guzman said.

Born on Dec. 8, 1960 in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Visaya is a decorated military officer, being a recipient of four Distinguished Service Stars -- the third highest award in the AFP given for imminently meritorious performance of duty in a position of major responsibility; three Gawad sa Kaunlaran awards; 11 Bronze Cross medals; 49 Military Merit medals; 14 Military Commendation medals; Sagisag ng Ulirang Kawal; two Silver Wing medals; 20 Plaques of Recognition and countless letters of appreciation and commendation from different military commanders and various socio-civic organizations, he added.

He was awarded the Cavalier Award for Army operations in 2008, the most-coveted award that a PMA alumnus can obtain.

During his younger days in the military service, Visaya earned his mark as a leader and firmly established the foundations of his military career by ably performing key positions in the junior level of command in the Philippine Army, the Solcom spokesman said.

Among these, he said, are: platoon leader and company commander of the Bravo Company, 28th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division and then commanding officer of the 3rd Intelligence and Security Unit, Intelligence and Security Group.

Visaya's capability to hold a position of major responsibility was proven when he assumed as battalion commander of the 69th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, in Central Luzon and soon after, as battalion commander of the CMO Battalion, Civil–Military Operations Group in Metro Manila.

He was also the commander of the following units: Task Group WHITE Area, 202nd Infantry Brigade in Southern Tagalog, Task Force NILAD and Joint Task Force LAND–NCR, National Capital Region Command.

Visaya also held the position of brigade commander of two prestigious brigades, the 104th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division that operated in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Lanao Provinces and Basilan, and the 901st Infantry Brigade, 9th Infantry Division in the Bicol Region.

The Solcom chief was also designated as assistant division commander of the 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, in Cotabato and as commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army in Cagayan de Oro City covering the areas of Northern Mindanao (Regions X and XIII).

These abilities could not have been realized without the various schooling that he undertook, both local and abroad, Guzman said.

For his educational attainment, Visaya went through the Scout Ranger Regular Course, Intelligence Officer Basic Course, Infantry Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advance Course, Tradecraft for Trainor’s Course, Electronic Warfare Officer Course, Contract Management Course, Executive Course on Security Studies in Hawaii, USA, Command General Staff Course at the Training and Doctrine Command, Philippine Army and Pacific Army Management Seminar in Tokyo, Japan.

He also finished the Professional Managers Program at the Ateneo University, Financial Statement Analysis at the University of Asia and the Pacific and Masters in Project Management at the Australian Defense Force, Canberra, Australia.

“His wholehearted commitment, innovativeness, progressive thinking and meritorious achievements as a military professional earned him the admiration of his men and fellow officers in the organization,” Guzman said.

“Similarly, his undoubted high standard of performance and outstanding leadership yielded many successes in his tour of duty in both garrison and the field,” the Solcom spokesman added.

Prior to the synchronized presidential and local polls, Visaya said, every soldier, airman, sailor and marine were ready to salute the next President as their leader and commander-in-chief.

“Solcom will, at all times, follow the chain of command and will recognize, respect and follow whoever emerges as the choice of the majority. Every soldier, airman, sailor and marine will salute the next President as our leader and commander-in-chief,” Visaya said.

Duterte has called Visaya as the "vibrant general."

Visaya was also one of the top contenders for the top AFP post last year.

Meanwhile, Visaya said the newly concluded elections were generally peaceful in his area of jurisdiction.

He said 58 of the 59 cities and municipalities in the election watchlist of areas (EWAs) in regions lV-A, lV-B (except Palawan) and Bicol Region were peaceful and orderly.

"The concluded synchronized national and local polls in Southern Luzon were generally peaceful, except for that very unfortunate election-related incident early morning in Barangay Wawa 3, Rosario, Cavite which left seven civilians dead," Visaya said.

He said that since January 2016, the Solcom focused on security operations in cities and municipalities identified in the EWAs of the commission on elections.

Though, in many instances, he said, his men had engaged the communist insurgents.

“Our soldiers engaged the NPAs in EWAs and made tactical gains. Some 5,500 soldiers and CAFGU active auxiliaries were deployed in the area for election duties to augment the PNP. The AFP, PNP and Comelec share this joint objective for a secured, fair, honest and credible conduct of the National and Local Elections 2016,” he said. (by Rhadyz Barcia, PNA)

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