Philippine Peace Center
26 September 2018
“Red October”– the supposed plot exposed by Malacanang and the AFP top brass wherein the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the Liberal Party (LP), Tindig Pilipinas (TP) and the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) have allegedly banded together in a conspiracy to oust President Duterte is nothing but a big fat lie. It is a Red-scare fabrication aimed at splitting the opposition, preventing the various legal groups from closing ranks and undertaking bigger joint protest actions. It is part of the scheme to Red-tag, demonize and stigmatize the more militant and progressive groups as “terrorists” and “communists” as a prelude to and pretext for “neutralizing” them with more repressive measures.
Malacanang and the AFP have nothing but tall tales and conflicting statements to back up their story. President Duterte says the information was provided by a foreign power, but could not reveal which one. The AFP generals say they retrieved the information from seized laptops, but could not show a single page of documentary proof. (But of course, “producing” and displaying such documents would not prove anything, since any grade schooler can produce any kind of “document” from a computer!) If there are really such documents, Secretary of Defense Lorenzana, the Commander-in-Chief’s alter-ego to whom the AFP should report directly, has no knowledge of them, thus declaring, “We have no proof of such conspiracy.” To date, PNP top brass cautiously qualify “Red October” as an allegation– all they have is raw information that they still need to validate.
And yet the AFP generals have gone on a red-tagging spree, branding workers’ strikes dubbed “Aklasan”, and student protests as major parts of the conspiracy, both allegedly serving as recruiting ground for the New People’s Army (NPA). The communists are behind all the protest movements! Ergo, the armed NPA cannot be eradicated unless their legal political infrastructure is neutralized and dismantled, and the protests are suppressed. All government agencies, institutions, LGUs must be geared at crushing both the armed and unarmed components of the communist insurgency ; the military cannot do it alone. This is the “whole-of-nation” approach.
What does all this have to do with the peace process? Why has the AFP singled out two of the better known peace advocates—former Rep. Satur Ocampo and Philippine Peace Center Executive Director Rey Casambre, as orchestrating the “Red October” ouster plot in behalf of the CPP? Surely the AFP and PNP know this could not be true. They know there is no “Red October” plot. Besides, no matter how challenged military intelligence is, it is easy to determine that neither of them is in the “secretariat” or is not even an organizer of MAT or any of the groups in the imaginary conspiracy.
An underlying argument in the militarists’ approach to the peace process is that the armed conflict causes underdevelopment and poverty, not the other way around. Thus, development can only be pursued and poverty eradicated once the insurgency is defeated, mainly through military means. This approach is contrary to the view, adopted by the GRP & NDFP Negotiating Panels and by peace advocates here and abroad, that genuine peace can only be achieved by instituting basic social, economic and political reforms that address and eradicate the roots of the armed conflict.
Over the years, the GRP has balked at negotiating basic or fundamental social and economic reforms, such as land reform and national industrialization. While it appeared, in the first year of the Duterte regime, that some major headway was achievable in discussing these reforms, the talks deteriorated drastically after martial law was declared in Mindanao, and virtually collapsed last June when the GRP unilaterally cancelled the resumption of the formal talks, declared the termination of the negotiations, declared the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations and announced a shift to local peace talks in violation of prior bilateral agreements.
Former Rep. Ocampo and Mr. Casambre were the most vocal and visible peace advocates criticizing the imminent “paradigm shift” as a virtual abandonment of the path to genuine peace and warning against the rise and dominance of the militarist and even fascist approach to “ending the insurgency”. The calls to resume formal peace talks, honor all bilateral agreements and address the roots of the armed conflict resonated not only among peace advocates but with various sectors – peasants demanding land reform, workers demanding an end to contractualization, ordinary people protesting spiking prices and rampant human rights violations such as the drug killings.
It would seem that the outlandish accusations against Rep. Ocampo and Mr. Casambre are a product of “failure of intelligence” if not a dearth of it. But no, it does not take much intelligence to determine that Rep. Ocampo and Mr. Casambre could not have orchestrated “Red October”, even assuming without granting that there is one. Perhaps by branding the two as “communists” and “terrorists” the AFP hopes to discourage, if not scare, other peace advocates from being vocally critical of the GRP’s new “paradigm shift”. Or in a broader context, to discourage and pre-empt protest actions against the government.
If this is so, then Malacanang and its minions have not learned their lesson in history: Repression only breeds further resistance. ###
Reference: Rey Claro Casambre, Executive Director; firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: 0943686195