Army officer blamed for Ampatuan massacre promoted
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2014 - 5:30pm

MANILA, Philippines - A military officer blamed by some sectors for the infamous Maguindanao massacre has been promoted to brigadier general.

Brig. Gen. Medardo Geslani, the chief of the Maguindanao-based 601st brigade when the massacre took place, was one of the five officers who were honored during the donning of ranks ceremony in Fort Bonifacio Monday.

Geslani is presently the deputy commander of the Training and Doctrine Command.

His promotion, however, was greeted with protest by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), calling it an insult to the massacre victims.

“It is doubly unfortunate that the promotion of Geslani was announced on Monday, June 23, 2009, exactly 55 months since the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre,” NUJP Chairperson Rowena Paraan said in a statement Tuesday.

“Geslani’s promotion is yet another insult on the memory of the 58 victims of the massacre, 32 of whom were media practitioners,” she added.

Paraan claimed Geslani’s failure or refusal to act on a request from the Mangudadatus for security escorts for their convoy might have sealed the fate of the massacre victims.

“For (President) Benigno Aquino III to approve Geslani’s promotion is yet another betrayal of his promise to make justice and human rights the cornerstone of his presidency,” she said.

The Army however, said there is no legal impediment to Geslani’s promotion.

“He (Geslani) possesses all the qualification because there is no legal impediment,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said.

“They (NUJP) are free to (express) their own opinion. It (promotion) underwent process,” he added.

Detoyato said investigators from the military and the Ombudsman had cleared Geslani of any accountability.

“You cannot be promoted if you do not have clearance form the Ombudsman,” he said.

NUJP said Geslani was the second Army officer being blamed for the Maguindanao massacre to be promoted.

The first was retired general Alfredo Cayton who was the chief of the 6th Infantry Division when the massacre transpired.

“It was Cayton who assured the journalists who would eventually perish in the convoy that it was perfectly safe to travel from Buluan to Shariff Aguak,” Paraan said.

She said it is mind-boggling that the Army missed the fact that three days before the massacre, Maguindanao police and members of the Ampatuan private militia had already set up checkpoints on the highway leading to the provincial capital.

“The military, of course, undertook its own 'impartial' investigation after the massacre and, as expected, absolved the two officers of any responsibility whatsoever,” Paraan said.

The infamous Maguindanao massacre took place in the town of Ampatuan and left 58 persons dead.

Killed were 16 members of the Mangudadatu clan, 32 journalists and civilians. Authorities suspect that the motive behind the killings was political rivalry.

A total of 195 people have been implicated in the incident, including members of the Ampatuan clan, members of civilian volunteer organizations, militia men, and policemen.

Authorities have so far accounted for 115 of the 195 suspects.


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