A retired general who was a prominent figure in the coup attempts against the late President Corazon C. Aquino has been appointed by her son, President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, to the Office of the President as assistant secretary.
Palace officials defended the appointment of Ret. Gen. Victor Batac, saying he has been helping Rehabilitation chief Ping Lacson in his work in Yolanda-stricken areas, and has served as an assistant secretary at the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.
Batac’s appointment made some people question why a former mutineer is joining the administration.
Batac’s previous post, after the coups during Cory Aquino’s presidency, was as deputy director for logistics of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The coup on November 30 to December 7, 1989 aimed to oust then President Aquino and install a transitional government composed of civilians and military officers. But the rebellion resulted in the loss of several lives, bringing down the fledgling economy to its knees and further dividing the fractured armed forces.
Batac led troops in seizing television stations during the 1989 coup while former Navy Capt. Felix Turingan, who became a board member of RPN 9, led the attack at Sangley Point in Cavite, then the base of the military’s T-28 planes.
A total of 153 military officers who had been jailed or charged for the coup had been reinstated. This number excludes 55 military officers who remained in active service because they had not been formally charged in court. Some 1,675 soldiers previously charged have also returned to the military.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism earlier said political scientists like Alfred McCoy interpreted the appointment of former coup plotters as proof of the impunity long enjoyed by the military, which got away with abuses under the Marcos regime.
RAM leaders insisted that it was the government that offered them amnesty; they did not ask for it. RAM leader and ex-Navy Capt. Proceso Maligalig said RAM as a “social movement” welcomed the offer since the move presented more options that it could maximize to strengthen the organization.
Besides Honasan, Turingan, Batac, Bibit and Malajacan, the other members of the core group that launched the December coup are now in the mainstream.
Other senior coup participants were promoted to general. Among them: Brig. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, Brig. Gen. Arsenio Tecson, and PNP Deputy Director Anselmo Avenido.
Batac was the former director of the Directorate for Logistics of the Philippine National Police. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of ’71 (Matatag). His classmates include prominent politicians Senators Gregorio Honasan and Lacson, and military and police generals such as Narciso Abaya, Romeo Dominguez, Reynaldo Alcasid, Neon Ebuen, Rex Piad, and Virtus Gil.
Honasan remains a member of the Senate while Lacson is presently presidential adviser on rehabilitation and recovery tasked to oversee the rehabilitation of areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Gil, meanwhile, ran for mayor in Angono, Rizal but lost to incumbent Gerry Calderon.
Batac joined the Philippine Constabulary upon graduation from the PMA. In the early 1980s, he along with then Lt. Col. Gringo Honasan and Red Kapunan formed the RAM (later renamed to Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa).
Batac’s appointment was signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on March 6, 2014.
Valte also announced the appointments of the following officials: Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who is now the undersecretary for Special and Ocean Concerns under the DFA. He will be replaced as undersecretary for administration by Undersecretary Linglingay Lacanlale; and Undersecretary Lula del Rosario who has designated as undersecretary for International Economic Relations.