‘Red October’ plot: Was it ever there?

POSTSCRIPT - Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

NOW the military is telling us that the supposed “Red October” plot to overthrow the government this month has been neutralized!

It looks more correct to say “withdrawn” – meaning the destabilization plot first floated by President Duterte upon his return Sept. 8 from a trip to Jordan did not fly, so they are pulling it down in the meantime.

Without his Red October scenario, an ailing Duterte – haunted by unfulfilled promises and a sense of drift – will have to come up with another reason for a martial law or revolutionary government type of situation to arrest his political decline.

It seemed to us that the red alarm was to be followed by widespread lawlessness to justify the imposition of nationwide martial law or the takeover by a military-backed revolutionary government before the 2019 midterm election.

But his Red October story fell on skeptical ears. That just goes to show how low the credibility of the Duterte administration has dropped as a result of its frequent false statements and urong-sulong policies and pronouncements.

Even when the President himself says something significant, one still has to guess if he is joking, is serious, or what. His own spokesmen caught in a game of musical chairs often cannot agree on what their boss is trying to communicate.

The main line of the Red Dragon story – given away by the stink of red herrings – was centered on a plot to overthrow the government by the communists conspiring with opposition politicians and, according to Duterte, the Church.

The military and the administration’s propagandists warned of a crescendo of criticisms against President Duterte as one of the indications of an ongoing plot to overthrow the government this month.

The basic flaw of their presentation is that DUTERTE IS NOT THE GOVERNMENT. Criticisms of Duterte or his administration cannot be taken as verbal attacks, much less an uprising, against the government.

If incompetence and corruption in the administration is being brought to light and denounced, such action does not equate to an attempt to overthrow the government. His administration is not the government.

Even assuming there is a campaign to impeach the President (there is none), it is erroneous to construe such a constitutional move as intended to overthrow the government. On the contrary, excising the diseased sections in government strengthens it.

Another flaw is that the script has the Communists talking and plotting with the political opposition and the Church. The improbability of this cozy conspiracy of radicals and conservatives is explained in our Oct. 4 Postscript. See: https://tinyurl.com/y84hmap5

Duterte improved on Marcos’ story of a supposed conspiracy in the 1970s of the elitist Right and the communist Left against the Center (him). In Red October, the military involved more disparate elements – the Communist Party, Liberal Party, Magdalo Party (Trillanes faction), Coalition for Justice (supporters of ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno), and the Movement Against Tyranny (group identified with the Commission on Human Rights). Duterte also mentioned the Church.

It was only last week, when they could not produce proof of the conspiracy at a budget hearing in the Senate, that the military top brass dropped Liberal and the Magdalo senators from the list of usual suspects.

After Red October was disclosed last month, the armed forces – why the military and not the police? – made their presence felt on several college campuses marked as nests of student activism where communists reportedly recruited followers.

The people running the show probably have not learned from the errors of Marcosian martial rule. Marcos’ military clamped down on campuses, scaring many students who were not really communists into going underground and thus ruining their future.

The authorities have not arrested any of the supposed conspirators. The only catch we have read about was that of several persons, one of them a Chinese, in Teresa, Rizal, allegedly keeping some firearms. The military scored by linking them to Red October.

With his health apparently failing, the 73-year-old President will have to move faster to hold on to power. For the sake of the more than 100 million already reeling from the difficult times, we hope Tatay Digong does not miscalculate.

• Restore Macapagal name to Clark airport

IT’S about time the Congress brought back the name Diosdado Macapagal International Airport to the world-class aerodrome at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

Clark International Airport used to carry the name of Pampanga’s illustrious son who was president from 1961 to 1965, but then President Noynoy Aquino had it renamed in 2012 after Major Harold Clark of the US Army Signal Corps who died in the Panama Canal in 1919.

On Wednesday, the House committee on transportation in a hearing at Clark approved House bills No. 2274 and No. 8289 to restore its name Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.

Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, committee chair, said the move was endorsed by the Pampanga provincial government and the cabalen for “institutionalizing its old name in honor of the former President and his accomplishments and contributions to the country.”

The city governments of Mabalacat and Angeles had passed resolutions seeking the renaming of the airport to DMIA. About 80 percent of the land area of Clark is in Mabalacat.

Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. (3rd Dist., Pamp.) filed HB 2274, while House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. (1st Dist., Cam. Sur), Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Rep. Carmelo Lazatin II (1st Dist., Pamp.) and Rep. Arthur Yap (3rd Dist., Bohol) filed HB 8289.

Clark International Airport Corp. president Alex Cauguiran, invited by the committee as resource speaker in the hearing, said: “We are grateful to the authors of the proposed bills and the panel members for honoring the late great President of the republic.

“Renaming Clark airport to Diosdado Macapagal is consistent with the guideline of the National Historical Commission which says the renaming of public structures already named after presidents or national heroes cannot be replaced with names of people of lesser importance.”

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ADVISORY: All Postscripts can be accessed at manilamail.com. Follow author on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email feedback to [email protected]

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