Harry Roque: ‘Red October not meant to divert attention from inflation’

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Harry Roque: �Red October not meant to divert attention from inflation�
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. assured the public that President Duterte and his entire economic team are working to address inflation.
AP / Bullit Marquez / File

MANILA, Philippines — The alleged “Red October” destabilization plot is not an attempt to divert the people’s attention from inflation, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.

Roque denied insinuations of a cover-up and diversion from the pressing issues of soaring prices of goods.

“We don’t need to cover up the present problems that we need to face. We are all affected by inflation,” Roque said in an interview with dzRH.

Roque assured the public that President Duterte and his entire economic team are working to address inflation.

He said the President has issued an administrative order that orders the removal of non-tariff barriers and administrative charges on imported agricultural and fishery products.

Roque said the reported Red October plot to oust Duterte came from military intelligence sources.

“The intelligence came from the military. That’s their job and I repeat, whatever they (coup plotters) are planning to do, it won’t bear fruit because the people overwhelmingly support the President,” he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that communist groups, opposition personalities and some disgruntled soldiers are conniving to oust Duterte.

It was supposed to be mounted next month, thus the label, “Red October,” according to Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, AFP deputy chief of staff for operations.

Parlade earlier mentioned the Magdalo group of former rebel officers that included opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, as among the groups seeking the ouster of Duterte.

However, the Magdalo has assured the military that it will not join any ouster plot.

Parlade yesterday said Alejano made the assurance during a meeting with AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr.

He said Alejano called and met him earlier also to assure him that the Magdalo will not align itself with the communists or other groups seeking the ouster of Duterte.

Parlade said Alejano did the right thing, telling him that the communists would possibly exploit the Magdalo to bring about the downfall of Duterte.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, a former rebel officer, expressed belief the Duterte administration is in no danger of being destabilized.

Honasan said there is nothing for the people to worry about.

“Let’s not be distracted by the noise. Let’s relax. We’re in a democracy and our institutions are working despite what others may think,” Honasan said.

He said the people should trust in the country’s institutions.

Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año also assured the public that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will not participate in efforts to destabilize the government despite reported attempts to recruit police officers to the Red October plot.

Año said police officers will not allow themselves to be used for adventurism or destabilization efforts.

Año expressed confidence police officers will not entertain overtures for the plot because the PNP solidly supports Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“We received information on initial recruitment for the Red October plot early this month. Thus, I am still reminding all PNP personnel to stay non-partisan and be loyal to the Constitution and duly constituted authorities,” the former AFP chief said.

Año said Red October is a project of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its allied and front organizations, a scheme to foment labor unrest and agitation among urban poor and peasant communities, as well as to form alliances with other opposition groups.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said no one among the police ranks will join the plot to oust Duterte.

He said there is no motivation for any police officer to go against the Duterte administration.

On the other hand, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has until Monday to submit its initial report on Red October.

The NBI immediately started its investigation on the alleged ouster plot after Malacañang openly revealed the existence of the plot to remove Duterte from the presidency.

“We take this matter seriously as Red October may actually involve commission of crimes punishable under our penal laws,” Guevarra added.

Six people linked to the supposed destabilization plot were charged by the NBI on Thursday.

NBI deputy director Vicente de Guzman Jr. said they have reason to believe that the six were involved in the ouster plot.

“We are already taking the position that this case has relevance to Red October and we are in the process of gathering information to substantiate our theory,” De Guzman said.

De Guzman said the NBI will coordinate efforts with the military to gather evidence in linking the six suspects to the Red October plot.

De Guzman said he will submit today the executive summary report of their investigation to Guevarra. – Michael Punongbayan, Evelyn Macairan, Rey Galupo, Emmanuel Tupas, Paolo Romero

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