Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez (right) speaks as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the budget hearing for the defense department and attached agencies at the Senate yesterday.
Geremy Pintolo
AFP chief clears Liberal Party, Trillanes in ouster plot
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 3, 2018 - 12:00am

NBI has witness in ‘Red October’

MANILA, Philippines — It’s “Red October” and only the Reds or communists are involved.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Carlito Galvez yesterday cleared the Liberal Party (LP) and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of alleged involvement in any plot to overthrow the government.

But the AFP chief warned that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), with its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA), is trying to involve legitimate political groups and personalities without their knowing it through cutouts and “linkages.”

Malacañang also insisted that there is “collusion” among communists and certain LP members for the ouster of President Duterte, and that Trillanes himself has called for the ouster, so there is no inconsistency between the statements of Galvez and Duterte.

“We will not support any unconstitutional approach or unconstitutional move. In fact, if you have information on any member of the LP, would you tell us? We will expel (him or her) because that is in violation of our Constitution,” LP president and Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.

“Let me assure you, if there (is) recruitment (in the military), it’s not coming from Magdalo,” Trillanes told Galvez, referring to the group that the senator formed in staging the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

Galvez could not give a categorical answer and instead requested an executive session with senators on the matter.

Meanwhile, as “Red October” rumors swirl, President Duterte reiterated his promise to soldiers that he would take care of them as long as he is Chief Executive. 

“I will take care of you as long as I am in power. I will never abandon you,” Duterte told members of the Army’s 803rd brigade in Catarman, Northern Samar yesterday in Filipino. 

“You will never have any worry at all. Just work,” Duterte added. 

The President also ordered the military to “neutralize” communists, among the forces that he claimed are seeking to overthrow him.

Neutralize is a military term that refers to the arrest, capture, death or surrender of members of armed groups fighting the government. 

“We are not into crime prevention,” Duterte said. “We are going for neutralization now.”

“There is no crime prevention because the crime is being perpetrated 24 hours a day. So you do not need to ask whether there is a warrant,” Duterte added. 

Duterte said NPA sparrow units, which are allegedly behind the killing of soldiers and former rebels, should be “neutralized” even without an arrest warrant. 

“If they carry firearms, you are a sparrow, you can be neutralized,” Duterte said.  

Duterte also advised soldiers to strengthen their intelligence-gathering efforts against the rebels.  

“Once you get them, it’s neutralization. I will be criticized but I’m telling you, I am guiding you what is practical and what is true and legal. That’s legal,” he said. 

As this developed, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. yesterday said there is no inconsistency in the statements of Duterte and Galvez, who he said did not discount the possibility that individual members of LP are conspiring with communists. 

“It could be true that there is no formal memorandum of agreement between the (LP) itself and the CPP-NPA. It does not prevent leading personalities with the (LP) from having such collusion,” Roque said in a press briefing. 

Roque added that the Duterte administration remains convinced that such collusion exists, citing Trillanes’ previous statements that he wants the President out of office. 

“No one will admit (collusion). But there is (intelligence) information in this regard and as far as we are concerned, we are considering all these information as valid and we are ready to face them,” the presidential spokesman said. 

“(Trillanes) has repeatedly called for the ouster of the President, so there’s no inconsistency. He has told, he has actually verbalized time and again (that Duterte) should step down,” Roque added. 

Asked if Duterte would identify the LP members involved in the ouster plot, Roque said: “I don’t know if he’s willing to name names, maybe you should ask him.”

Roque reiterated that Duterte continues to enjoy the support of Filipinos despite the reported destabilization plots. 

“We don’t recognize any viable threat against the administration because the people are solidly behind the President,” Roque said. 

The spokesman also shrugged off claims that the destabilization talks are being used to prod Duterte to impose martial law nationwide.  

“He is just performing his duty. Martial law was needed in Mindanao. He does not need martial law in Luzon and Visayas,” Roque said.

Pressed if the administration would seek the arrest of those seeking to oust the President, Roque said the government would not make such move “as long as they don’t constitute a clear and present danger.” 

‘Agitation’

Galvez described “Red October” as “elaborate” and “pervasive” that includes the agitation of high school and college students from the University of the Philippines and several other universities, labor groups and indigenous peoples, using issues like high prices and human rights violations.

Galvez noted that CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison has video addresses with students while forums have been conducted likening the Duterte administration to that of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.

The AFP chief claimed that front organizations have already successfully agitated labor unions that led to unrest in major companies.

Galvez added that allied organizations in Europe have opened a “people’s court” to try Duterte for alleged crimes against the people.

All of these will be accompanied by heightened attacks by the NPA in the countryside, Galvez said.

The agitation intensified with the Sept. 21 rallies on the 46th anniversary of Marcos’ martial law declaration, and would be peaking on the CPP’s 50th anniversary on Dec. 26, Galvez said.

During the deliberations on the proposed P183-billion budget of the Department of National Defense yesterday, opposition senators took turns grilling Galvez on Red October.

“This is the sinister plot of the CPP-NPA,” Galvez said.

Galvez added that communist rebels, directed by Sison from the Netherlands, are trying to use the same destabilization templates they used in the past like the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing and during the administration of former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.

Once the country is in political and economic turmoil, the CPP-NPA aims to overthrow the government and take over, Galvez said.

When asked by Pangilinan whether he agrees that a “rev-gov” (revolutionary government) is unconstitutional, Galvez answered: “Yes, your honor.”

House probe

The Makabayan bloc of seven leftist party-list representatives asked the House of Representatives to look into Red October.

In a resolution, the group led by Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna said military officials have misled the President on the supposed plan to remove him from office.

The lawmakers said the same military officers who gave the President wrong information have cleared those supposedly involved in the alleged plot one after another.

“These put the military’s allegations in question. It is imperative that the (House) investigate the so-called Red October plot or similar ones alleged by the AFP as such may be a prelude to massive crackdown against the opposition and may result in human rights violations on a massive scale,” they said.

Witness appears

Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has made a breakthrough in its probe on Red October.

An official privy to the investigation told The STAR that a witness has surfaced before the NBI and gave “significant details” on the alleged plot to oust Duterte.

The source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, did not give details of the testimony taken on Monday night pending verification of probers and also due to the sensitivity of information that “involves national security matters.”

But the insider hinted that the witness appeared to have “bolstered AFP’s information.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra refused to confirm this, saying he has not yet received any report from the NBI.

AFP gains

The AFP yesterday boasted how it is gaining ground against the CPP-NPA and other terrorist groups. 

Recent developments supposedly show that rebel and terrorist groups are experiencing significant setbacks following more intense military operations conducted by security forces nationwide.

“We have seen that rebel groups have lost the support of the public,” Galvez said in Filipino. “Those who surrender tell us that they experience hardship and see no reason to remain in the movement.”

“It is not too late for you to surrender and leave your current miseries from fighting a useless cause,” Galvez told CPP-NPA rebels.

The AFP chief also commended the troops who have foiled attacks that might have killed innocent civilians.

“I remind every unit and every soldier, airman, sailor and marine not to let our guard down against terrorists,” Galvez said.

Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP’s public affairs office chief, said the trend of NPA regulars and supporters coming back to the fold of the law continues.

During debriefing, Detoyato said these former rebels provided the AFP with information against the CPP-NPA.

For his part, Col. Alberto Desoyo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said he is not aware of any personality from Negros island who is linked to Red October.

“If you are not with them and did nothing wrong, I don’t think you have to be bothered,” Desoyo added.

But Noli Rosales of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Negros Occidental chapter told MBC Aksyon Radyo that he was among seven included in the supposed list.

Rosales dared government authorities to run after the CPP-NPA and not activists who are defending workers and their rights. – With Alexis Romero, Jess Diaz, Edu Punay, Michael Punongbayan, Gilbert Bayoran  

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES LIBERAL PARTY RED OCTOBER
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