MANILA - Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte is considering appointing Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Speaking to reporters on Sunday night, Duterte called Visaya a "vibrant general."
"I'm considering General Visaya to be the chief of staff. He is a vibrant general," he said.
Visaya is currently the chief of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) and was a top contender for the top AFP post last year.
Visaya was the ground commander during the so-called Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004. He also served as the Commanding Officer under Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan when the latter was head of the Philippine Army's Infantry Division in Central Luzon.
The now-retired Palparan, also called "The Butcher" by leftists, was arrested last August 2014 in connection with the disappearance of two UP students in 2006.
Last April 22, outgoing President Aquino appointed in an acting capacity Lt Gen. Glorioso Miranda as acting AFP chief. He succeeded Gen. Hernando Iriberri.
Iriberri's mandatory retirement fell within the constitutionally prescribed period banning all appointments to government positions during an election period. It meant that the president, as commander-in-chief, was no longer allowed by the Constitution to appoint any official to take Iriberri's place.
Sec. 15, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that a President or acting President shall not make appointments 2 months immediately before the next elections and up to the end of his term.
Duterte met with former police chiefs of Davao City Police Office at the Hotel Elena in Davao City Sunday.
Among those who had a casual dinner meeting with Duterte were S/Supt. Rene Aspera, C/Supt. Ramon Apolinario and C/Supt. Ronald Dela Rosa, who is reportedly being groomed by Duterte to replace Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ricardo Marquez, who will be handing in his courtesy resignation.
The meeting came before Duterte starts receiving well-wishers, including foreign dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corps, in Davao City on Monday.
The 71-year-old Duterte earlier announced that he would be going on a retreat in a farm somewhere in Davao before meeting with well-wishers. -- with reports from Vina Araneta, Edwin Sevidal, ABS-CBN
READ: Foreign envoys to call on Duterte in Davao