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E-CLIP Briefer: it’s all about money, money

in Countercurrent

The Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) took off from the Comprehensive Local and Integration Program (CLIP) of the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) and the PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan-Peaceful and Resilient communities) program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). The two programs were centralized under the Task Force Balik Loob, through Administrative Order 10 issued on April 3, 2018 by President Duterte. The consolidated program was renamed (how else?) E-CLIP.

On May 31, 2018, the Defense Department released a seven-paged Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR). It was jointly signed by DND chief Delfin Lorenzana, National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., then OPAPP head Jesus Dureza, and retired police general Nelson Estarez of Office of the President (OP).

Heading the Task Force Balik-Loob is DND Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu. Aside from the DND, among the lead agencies are the DILG, OPAPP, OP, and the NHA, with the rest of the Executive departments as members.

The Task Force claims it shall pursue a “comprehensive, integrated, community-based national program” that will be implemented in the local areas to address twin objectives: secure the legal status and security of former rebels; and take care of the former rebels’ economic and social needs and psychological rehabilitation.

These objectives, according to the IRR, shall be carried out through the CLIP and PAMANA programs. E-CLIP committees shall be organized in the provinces and highly urbanized cities.

Before the two programs were integrated, the CLIP under the DILG claimed to have spent Php 101.67 million as of January 2017 to assist 1,573 “former rebels” (or Php 65,000 per “rebel returnee”). The Php 65,000 is broken down into: Php 15,000 for immediate assistance while the “former rebel’s” enrollment to CLIP is processed, and Php 50,000 livelihood assistance once enrolled.

This does not include, the DILG said, rewards for surrendered guns, if there are any. In Davao City the president’s daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte, gave away an initial Php 20,000 and Php 50,000 for every low-powered firearm and high-powered firearm, respectively.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) unit or the local government unit that processes said enrollment receives Php 7,000 assistance, supposedly for the “board and lodging” of the “surrenderees”. Based on the 1,573 “former rebels” processed as of January 2017, at least some Php11 million of the budget went to the PNP and/or the local government unit.

Numbers don’t add up

Noticeably, under the Enhanced CLIP, the increase in the budget allocation went to the PNP and/or the local government unit handling the “rebel returnees’s” board and lodging. From Php 7,000, it was raised to Php 21,000 per police unit or LGU. The Php 65,000 budget per “surrenderee” remains the same.

In several news reports, DILG chief Gen. Eduardo Año boasted that in 2018 some Php 488 million have been downloaded nationwide to build halfway houses for the “rebel returnees”, to build the capacity of agencies involved in the program, and to support military and police units handling the “returnees”. The NHA was also said to have spent Php 450,000 for the construction of settlement houses of the “returnees”.

For 2019, Año said he would allocate another Php 250 million for the E-CLIP, “in anticipation of the “influx” of NPA members who presumably would want to surrender.

If approved in the bicameral conference committee deliberating the 2019 budget, the DND would get a separate allocation of Php 48.766 billion also for E-CLIP and the Task Force Balik-Loob.

For its part, the OPAPP has been seeking an increased budget for the PAMANA program since 2016: from Php 700 million in 2016 to Php 8 billion for 2017. And the Php 5.8-billion actual allocation in 2018 is planned to zoom to Php 30.216 billion for 2019.

The PAMANA project, according to the OPAPP website, “aims to extend development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, conflict-affected communities.” This would be done through road projects and delivery of social services that would be carried out by various government line agencies.

That the OPAPP had been involved in various corruption issues even during the time of Pres. Noynoy Aquino has recently been exposed. At that time, OPAPP got more than Php 2 billion from the corruption-reeking Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza resigned in November 2018 after President Duterte fired the OPPAP undersecretary for support services and PAMANA national program manager, Ronald Flores, and his assistant secretary for support services and PAMANA concerns, Yeshtern Baccay. Both officials were accused of corruption, and Dureza assumed command responsibility for their misdeeds.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has raised concern that the Php 36-billion cut in its 2019 budget, initiated by the House of Representatives, would affect its scholarship programs, including those offered to the children of “rebel returnees”. While the government kept drumbeating state support and services for the “surrenderees” in 2018, the scholarship program was not implemented simply because there was no budgetary allocation.

Indeed, the campaign to lure rebels “into the fold of the law” and the mock “influx” of alleged surrenderees are designed to fatten the bureaucrats’ pocket. What gives away the money-making scheme is this: the government’s actual spending and the reported number of “surrenderees” don’t add up.

Duterte’s “surrender” program is a scam

in Countercurrent
by Iliya Makalipay

Alde “Butsoy” Salusad is a leader of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-backed paramilitary group New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR). He is a murderer—the killer of anti-mining activist Datu Jimmy Liguyon—with two warrants of arrests on him that remain unserved by the Bukidnon Philippine National Police because he has been coddled by the AFP since 2012.

In August 11, 2017, five years after he killed Liguyon, Salusad was presented by the AFP as “NPA surrenderee” and was awarded Php100,000 in cash. Then in March 2018, the military included Salusad in the list of more than 600 names and aliases of alleged members of the CPP and the NPA in a petition for proscription filed at a Manila regional trial court.

Filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in compliance with the Human Security Act of 2007 (the Philippine anti-terrorism law), the petition seeks to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations. The court initially ordered the names of four individuals, who had challenged their inclusion in the petition, excluded for lack of evidence that they were officers or members of the CPP and the NPA. After others similarly questioned their inclusion, the DoJ revised the petition by dropping the long list.

The charade about Alde Salusad is among the many ways the Duterte regime tries to cover up its failure to defeat the revolutionary movement led by the CPP-NPA and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), through vicious military operations launched in areas they consider as NPA guerrilla fronts.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, where martial law has been imposed for two years now, farmers and indigenous people—individually or collectively—have become targets of the fake/forced surrender campaign of the AFP. The trend is also noticeable in other parts of the country as the AFP keeps resetting its target date for “neutralizing” the armed revolutionary forces.

Will the real NPA surrenderees stand up?

Interviewed by Liberation, Julieta, a woman community leader from Bukidnon, revealed that one AFP battalion commander had summoned community leaders listed as “NPA terrorist supporters” from 31 barangays for a three-day “peace building seminar”. Each barangay had 10 names on the list. Julieta and her husband were among those listed from their village.

While her husband attended the event, she refused to go, declaring: “I am not a terrorist. I am a leader who defends our ancestral territory. We organize to protect our lands, we attend rallies so our voice could be heard, and to seek justice for those who were killed by the military and paramilitary groups.”

She quoted those who attended the seminar as complaining that “the military refused to answer our questions on how to protect our ancestral lands from the land grabbers.” Instead, they said, the military offered the more than 1,000 suspected “NPA terrorist sypathizers” seed money to grow mushrooms, ginger, coconut, and coffee trees. The seminar was in May 2018. As of October, not one of those who attended was given any seed money.

What alarmed the participants during those three days were the individual “interviews” conducted among them, which largely dealt with why they supported the NPA. At the end of the seminar, the participants were made to sign a document stating they would no longer participate in rallies. Ironically, they were herded to a rally immediately after the signing, and ordered to carry anti-NPA placards.

In the community, the soldiers have continued to convince the youth to join the military service, “so you will earn money.” They also egged on the community members, especially the youth, to search for firearms and turn them over to the military in exchange for money. Julieta said pictures of guns were distributed among them with corresponding price tags: AK-47 for Php 75,000 and handguns, Php 35,000. There were other guns priced at Php 65,000 and Php 45,000, but Julieta could not remember what sort of firearms they were. “They are teaching us to lie,” said Julieta, obviously irked by the military’s modus operandi.

There was a time when goons of the plantation owner who occupy their ancestral lands harassed them. Julieta said these belonged to the group of goons that killed a tribe member. The community reported the incident to the soldiers deployed in the area. Six goons were “arrested” but were brought to the military headquarters instead of the police station. Later, the six men were presented as “NPA surrenderees”.

For a few months after the “seminar”, fear and apprehension reigned among the community members. The specter of the Lianga massacre, where two indigenous leaders and one school executive were killed, always came back into their minds. After four months, however, they were again joining rallies.

“We are insulted by how the military treats us,” declared Julieta. “The military arbitrarily stops children to ask them if there are armed men in the community. When children pointed to the goons and security guards of the plantation, the soldiers would tell them ‘gahi na kaayo ka’ (you have been toughened).”

Similar stories have been recorded and made public by an international fact-finding mission held in Mindanao early last year. Likewise, the human rights alliance Karapatan reported more than 600 cases of forced/fake surrender since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016 to March 2018.

A victim of forced surrender in Northern Mindanao recounted, “From morning, noon, until night, the 29th Infantry Division [went] around the community forcing us to surrender. I did not go with them because I am not an NPA. That night they strafed our house.” Other communities were threatened with bombing or were actually bombed.

Worn-out tactics of deception and coercion

In early 2018, the AFP claimed about 4,000 people to be “NPA surrenderees.” By the end of the year, the number “surrenderees” varied, from a total of almost 8,000 to 11,000. The AFP cited those numbers, whereas it had previously claimed that the NPA had already been reduced to 3,000. Embarassed, the AFP has interchangeably called the “surrenderees” as NPA members, sympathizers, mass base or militia members.

It matters not for the military whether the line between unarmed civilians and NPA red fighters is blurred. In fact, they have arbitrarily removed the distinction. The point, for them, is to picture to the public a weakening revolutionary movement. But, one thing is certain—almost all of the so-called surrenderees who were herded in public venues and presented to the media were victims of threat, coercion, and deception. Most often, the “surrenderees” are later forced into joining paramilitary groups such as the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and other similar armed auxiliary groups.

As practiced in the past regimes, the military conduct “house-to-house visits” and “surveys”. They circulate a “wanted list” of people in the community and summon them to military headquarters to “clear their names”. During interrogation, the military try to sow disunity among the community members by telling the “accused” person that his neighbor had ratted on him. But many times, people were simply rounded-up and forced to attend “surrender ceremonies”. At the end of each ceremony or event, all those who attended were tricked to sign blank documents that would later be presented as “proofs of surrender”.

Government agencies are also used to deceive other victims. In Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, some 60 farmers were supposed to attend a gathering called by the Department of Agrarian Reform to discuss land distribution but were later presented as NPA surrenderees. Others were compelled to “cooperate” because of threats of arrests, detention, or cancellation of their benefits from the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Aside from the unarmed civilians, the AFP also hunts down former commanders and members of the NPA who had returned to civilian life. They too were coerced to “surrender”.

And there are the posers. Alde Salusad is a poser. And so were the 16 members of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group of Calpit Egua that was responsible for the massacre of school principal Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in 2015. Like Salusad’s NIPAR, the Magahat-Bagani group is backed by the AFP, in this case the 4th Infantry Division.

The AFP used these posers for propaganda against the revolutionary movement and also in the AFP’s psywar cum money-making venture called E-CLIP or the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

There’s money in (psy)war

The E-CLIP now embodies the Duterte regime’s campaign to induce the members of the NPA to surrender—and one of the identified core projects in the “12 pillars of the whole-of-nation” approach to end the “communist insurgency”.

See Editorial

Along with the “localized peace talks”, the government pushes E-CLIP as part of the psywar operations to deodorize the government’s bloody “counterinsurgency” program which, since the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been patterned after the 2009 United State’s Counterinsurgency (COIN). The COIN follows the the triad operations combining psywar and intelligence gathering with combat operations.

As the AFP launches sustained brutal military operations, the E-CLIP, supposedly one of the civilian components of the operation, complements the campaign against the NPA. It aims to coopt NPA members into surrender. Thus, the offer of livelihood programs, medical insurance coverage for one year through the PhilHealth, housing, safety and security, and other “amenities”. A portion of the budget is used to give gifts and bribes to the families of NPA members so they may, in turn, convince the NPA member in their family to surrender. Each “NPA surrenderee” supposedly gets Php 65,000 cash for assistance.

See E-CLIP Briefer

Granting there had been 8,000 to 11,000 “surrenderees” by the end of 2018, the government would have spent a total of Php 520 million to Php 715 million. Since there has never been many real surrenderees as the military would want the public to believe, the budget allocation for the program logically ends up in the pockets of military officers and their cohorts.

Getting nowhere

Assuming the E-CLIP and other psywar tactics succeed in attracting members of the revolutionary movement to surrender, this, in all certainty, is but temporary. Why? Because it does not get into the root causes of the armed conflict.

Oppression, exploitation, and social injustices breed revolutionaries who will pursue a free and democratic society. Thus, there will always be one, or two, a hundred, and then thousands and hundreds of thousands who will surely take up arms for their national and democratic interests. Until then, the reactionary government and its killing machine will just have to content themselves with unsustainable cheap gimmicks that are only meant to please their egos—their fascist egos.

On the ground, for every defeat of an AFP unit inflicted by the NPA, the AFP gets back at the civilians. Every time they can’t find the NPA members, they vent their ire on the civilians. An eight-year old Lumad child who was witness to military abuses and atrocities in their community described the soldiers as “pula ang nawong sa kasuko kung mga Lumad ang kaatubang pero luspad na kung makakita na ug NPA (their faces turn red in anger when in front of the Lumad but become ashen pale when they face the NPA).”

The regime continues to be on the losing end as it opts to engage in its useless war against the revolutionary movement and the masses, resorts to dirty tactics, and evades peace negotiations that would tackle the issues of why, in the first place, there is an ongoing war in the Philippines.

 

OF COMMUNISTS AND PLOTS: Does the military know what it’s talking about?

in Countercurrent
by Vida Gracias

“Communists do not conceal their aims,” the Communist Manifesto has put it. Yet the Communists have always been demonized and malicious lies are woven about them. It is for this reason that Marx and Engels always made public their views, aims and tendencies as stated in the Communist Manifesto.

And so it is with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which on December 26 marked its 50th year of leading the national democratic revolution in the Philippines. Called the longest-running revolution in Asia, if not in the entire world, the CPP-led revolutionary movement has been consistent in calling for the overthrow of the landlord-comprador state in the country and from its ruins set up a people’s democratic state.

Since its founding, the CPP has stuck to its basic strategy of waging a protracted people’s war, building up a people’s army and revolutionary bases in the countryside, and seizing political power, wave upon wave, from the countryside to the cities. It is a strategy that every revolutionary adheres to in this semi-colonial and semifeudal country.

Armed uprisings in the cities, particularly in the national capital region, will occur in the final offensive, when the revolutionary forces shall have already smashed reactionary power in the countrysides and all that is needed is the capture of the capital.

The CPP has stated that, at this time, it is still far from winning total victory. But tactically a regime change, an ouster, is possible. And the CPP has never concealed the fact that it is calling for the ouster of Duterte. It is out there in public—never secret, never conspiratorial—hence, what plot?

The “Red October Plot” was supposedly to roll until December to become the “White December Plot”. Then another name, “Operation Talsik”, was added to it. This only shows that communist hysteria is an old trick and those who rely on it are lacking in ideas or out of touch with reality.

No need for plot

The CPP is a revolutionary group of long standing. It has no need for plots that distort its aims and sow confusion in its ranks. It does not dabble in conspiracies, much less belittle the movement of the masses as the primary movers of history.

The people decide the fate of a regime. This is no more true than the people power uprising that overthrew the hated dictatorship of Marcos in 1986 and the corrupt regime of Estrada in 2002. Even as the past regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo belittled people power as merely a “mob” or “political noise,” the mass movement had succeeded in thwarting Arroyo’s scheme towards charter change and stopped her from extending her term.

Meanwhile, all the economic and social conditions are ripe for the overthrow of the Duterte regime. The CPP’s role is to point out to the masses where to head in that direction, urging them to hone their tactics and expand their strength, and will not take credit for the regime’s overthrow because the victory belongs to the people. You can read and debate about the need for Duterte’s ouster even in the internet. That is hardly a plot.

That the Duterte regime keeps harping on a “plot” by the CPP bespeaks of either two things: one, on how low in intelligence his political and military advisers have become, not excluding Duterte himself; or, two, the lies and distortions are intended to break up the broadening united front against the regime’s growing tyranny and dictatorship, where even noncommunists are calling for his ouster.

Critical mass

All this red-tagging is meant to put the national democratic mass movement on the defensive, isolate and demobilize it, knowing that the national democrats are at the core of the critical mass that can oust the Duterte regime. The regime’s greatest fear is for this critical mass to resonate in the military, whose rank and file are not immune to the sufferings of the masses and can move them to withdraw support from the regime.

Throughout several regimes, the national democratic mass organizations have persevered, built, expanded and maintained their strength from among the workers, peasants, urban poor and students. They have forged alliances with the middle forces and various political groups. They have worked within Moro and indigenous communities. They are in the forefront of the mass struggles for better living and working conditions, human rights, and a host of other issues. They have flexed their muscles not just in the parliament of the streets but also inside Congress, in international fora, and, across the peace negotiating table for meaningful reforms.

Notwithstanding Duterte’s unilateral termination of the peace talks with the NDFP in November 2017, the latter has put forward its substantive agenda for social, economic and political reforms. The Duterte regime was readily exposed as a false pretender and not desirous of solving the decades-old armed conflict in the Philippines.

Also, instead of weakening their ranks and crumbling under fear of Duterte’s killing spree and red tagging, the mass organizations within Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) in Mindanao launched on October 23 simultaneous rallies in the cities of Davao, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos. Some 15,000 marched to call for an end to martial law in Mindanao and the ouster of the US-Duterte regime.

A barrage of protests against Duterte was also held in 14 regions last September 21, on the 46th anniversary of Marcos’s martial law declaration. In Manila, flags of various colors flew in Luneta as thousands warned of a creeping dictatorship—“another dictator to rise or an old one to return.”

Overseas, where there are Filipinos and solidarity allies, the protests have been brought to the courts of public opinion. In August the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in Brussels judged President Duterte guilty of crimes against humanity. An indictment against Duterte (also including US President Donald Trump, the International Monetary Fund [IMF], World Bank [WB], and World Trade Organization [WTO]) was led by Bayan and its allied organizations for violations of the Filipinos civil and political rights, social and economic rights, and right to self-determination. The IPT verdict was then submitted to the Parliament of the European Union and the International Criminal Court.

Granting that communists may have joined these organizations, why freak out? This is the age of the millennia. Anything and everything you wanted to know about communism is one google away. People are learning more about national democracy. People’s organizations are bound by their charter and whoever subscribes to it is free to join, whether communist or not.

The Cold War era is past. The Anti-Subversion Law has been repealed where membership in the Communist Party is no longer illegal. Even the government talks to communists of all stripes, whether local or foreign, whether in power or out of it, whether revolutionary, revisionist or collaborationist. No one can be arrested for just being a communist.

That is why the reactionary state plays foul. It has associated “terrorism” to communism because by ideology one cannot be faulted for being a communist. It has criminalized political actions—whether led or not by communists—through trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Truth is, the anti-communist hysteria no longer sticks. It’s been 50 years of revolutionary war in the Philippines and the reactionary state is still up to its old tricks. It is the fear of fascism, not communism, that makes people rise up in anger.

Regime backtracks

Duterte’s military brass simply allowed itself to become the laughing stock of the nation. In no short time it backtracked from what founding CPP chair Jose Maria Sison called a “fairy tale” as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza admitted “there is no more Red October plot”.

But Chief Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo would not let the issue die. While he nailed it when he said “the threat to oust Presid9ent Rodrigo Duterte is always possible”, one can expect more ridiculous tales to surface.

As always, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) cannot win the propaganda war because it sees monsters where there are none. The monsters come from within the state it serves. The AFP is blindsided by its loyalty to Duterte and to the counter-insurgency plan of the US, in fact just all self-serving.

An advice to the men and women of the military: get real. Look at the true conditions of the people that you are sworn to serve and you will know why Duterte must go.

More Military Men in the US-Duterte Regime

in Countercurrent
by Leon Castro

The US-Duterte regime may be the most militarized bureaucracy in the country’s history.

Among all the presidents since the 1986 ouster of the Marcos dictatorship, Rodrigo Duterte has appointed the most number of former soldiers and police officers to top and key positions in his government — a move in line with its unraveling character as a repressive and tyrannical regime. Not even former chief martial law implementer and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Fidel Ramos had as many ex-military and police officers at any given time in his six-year term as president.

Duterte initially tried to mask his militarist nature by bandying his past links with the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) in his youth and with the New People’s Army (NPA)in Davao City and elsewhere in Mindanao when he was mayor.  In his first year as president, however, he populated his regime with ex-AFP and Philippine National Police brass, many of whom had been assigned in Davao and served during his murderous reign in that southern city.

As mayor Duterte, the police, the military and the notorious paramilitary group Alsa Masa were jointly accused by human rights groups to be responsible for the more than a thousand extrajudicial killings in Davao City. (He was later repeatedly accused of having had a hand in the killing of his erstwhile friend, Alsa Masa leader Juan Porras “Jun” Pala.)

What happened in Davao City then is ominously similar to what is now happening throughout the country, with Duterte’s so-called war on drugs, tagged as Oplan Double Barrel /Tokhang and the counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.

To date, Duterte has 60 former military and police officers in powerful and juicy posts across the bureaucracy.  And he will appoint current AFP chief Eduardo Año, he has said, as secretary of interior and local government once the latter retires in October. By surrounding himself with proven military and police bloodhounds, Duterte is also protecting himself from other rightist political cliques such as the putschist Magdalo group led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

In less than a year and a half, the US-Duterte regime has completely unraveled as a tyrannical militarist regime. On May 10 he facetiously said he was ready to form a junta with the appointment of retired former AFP chief Gen. Roy Cimatu to replace the maverick Gina Lopez as environment and natural resources secretary.

 

Peace saboteurs

Duterte’s security cluster appointees showed no qualms in admitting they had deliberately sabotaged the GRP-NDFP formal peace negotiations.  Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, national security adviser Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and the notorious human rights violator, AFP chief Eduardo Año, have been responsible for the current “total-war” policy against the NPA as well as the ongoing militarization of indigenous and peasant communities through Oplan Kapayapaan.

Lorenzana, Esperon and Año directly contravened efforts to advance the peace process with the NDFP by ordering its troops to attack NPA camps and civilian communities during the six-month unilateral ceasefire from August 2016 to February 2017. They also have caused the killing, abduction, and illegal arrest of activists, most notably peasant leaders, and indigenous peoples.

Last January 20, when the NDFP and the GRP were negotiating in Rome on free land distribution to peasants, 39th IBPA troopers attacked a NPA camp in Makilala, North Cotabato that nearly succeeded in derailing the talks pronto.

In a press briefing, NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said there appeared to be a deliberate and systematic sabotage of the ongoing formal peace talks in that city. “What is happening is similar to what happened in 2005 to 2006 where many activists were killed, presided by the very same people (Esperon and Año),” Agcaoili said.

Before capitalists in Makati last August 24, Lorenzana admitted it was he who convinced President Duterte to stop peace negotiations with the NDFP. He said he was against any peace process “that is clearly stacked against the government and favorable only to the CPP-NPA-NDF.” The Marcosian martial law relic added that the terms of the Comprehensive Agreement for Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) being discussed by the NDFP and GRP peace panels were “completely unacceptable.”

Lorenzana, Esperon and Año also staged the failed attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon last May 23 in Marawi City.  When the operation failed, they persuaded Duterte to declare martial law over the entire Mindanao.  Martial law spawned the greatest military and humanitarian disaster in his year-old government, with nearly half-a-million internally displaced persons.  Without provocation Lorenzana declared that the NPA was among the targets of the martial law declaration.  Along with Esperon and Ano, he plotted the cancellation of the scheduled fifth round of the NDFP-GRP talks by pressuring the GRP negotiators to insist that the CPP recall its defensive order to step up military offensives against the rampaging AFP troops.

 

Human rights violators

Other recent Duterte appointments were equally notorious human rights violators as AFP officers.

New national irrigation administrator Ricardo Visaya was the main implementer, as AFP chief, of the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan that resulted in the extrajudicial killing of many peasants and indigenous peoples. He was army ground commander during the November 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre in Tarlac, likewise the commander of troops in Central Luzon and Metro Manila involved in rights violations during Arroyo’s reign of terror under the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya. Among his known victims in Central Luzon were Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, two farmers who were abducted and tortured. In Metro Manila, Visaya’s stint was marked by military encampments in urban poor communities in 2006-2007, in time for the 2007 elections.

Former AFP chief Emmanuel Bautista, Duterte’s current executive director on security, justice and peace cluster, was the self-proclaimed brains behind the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan.  Human rights group Karapatan recorded 229 victims of extrajudicial killings, 26 enforced disappearances, 700 illegally arrested and detained, and over 46,000 victims of forced evacuations under the insidious counterinsurgency plan.

Presumptive interior and local government secretary and current AFP chief Año was accused of masterminding the abduction and disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos on April 28, 2007. Año was also said to be responsible for the killing spree against the Lumad and the illegal arrest and filing of trumped-up charges against activists, among other atrocities, when he was the commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Cimatu, current environment and natural resources secretary, headed the AFP Southern Command when civilians who came to be known as the “Basilan 72” were arrested based on wrongful accusations that they were Abu Sayyaf members. During his brief stint as AFP chief (May to September 2002), Cimatu led the implementation of the bloody counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya. He was also accused of accumulating ill-gotten wealth from the conversion of military funds during the Gloria Arroyo regime, for which the Department of Justice filed plunder cases against him and other high-ranking AFP officials in 2011. The case, though later dismissed, demonstrated how rampant was corruption within the military, implicating no less than its top officers.

Many other former AFP and PNP officers who are now high-ranking officials of the Duterte government faced complaints of human rights violations during their military and police careers.

 

Juicy civilian positions

A February 24 to March 6, 2011 Pulse Asia survey showed that 48.9 percent of Filipinos believed that the military was the most corrupt government agency in the country. The survey was conducted at the height of the congressional hearings on the military’s “pasalubong” and “pabaon” controversy involving the former AFP comptroller, retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, and the alleged corruption involving former high-ranking military officials, per the testimonies of former AFP budget officer, retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza.

In November that year, Newsbreak journalists Glenda Gloria, Aries Rufo, and Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza published the book The Enemy Within that narrated massive corruption in the military, such as the fraudulent conversion of its budget to allow for tens of millions of pesos to be given as gifts to  both incoming (pasalubong) and outgoing top commanders (pabaon).  AFP corruption is still believed to be rampant from top to bottom to this day.  Duterte’s appointment of an inordinate number of ex-military officers to juicy directorships and trusteeships in Government-Owned and Controlled-Corporations (GOCCs) can only be likened to letting insatiable foxes guard the chicken coop.

Apologists claim former military and police officers have the competencies to be managers and policy directors of the government’s money-making agencies.  Thus, Duterte named former coup plotter Nicanor Faeldon to the Bureau of Customs commissioner, and other ex-military officers as directors and trustees of the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), PNOC-Exploration Corp., Government Service Insurance System, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Phillippine Sugar Corp. and others. However, there is no shortage of qualified civilian experts who can be appointed to these clearly civilian offices.

 

Appointee Designation Agency
Roberto Lastimoso chair Philippine National Railways
Miguel dela Cruz Abaya director Development Bank of the Philippines
Delfin Lorenzana secretary Department of National Defense (DND)
Francisco Villaroman director Clark Development Corp. (CDC)
Alex Monteagudo director general National Intelligence Coordination Agency
Hermogenes Esperon Jr. director general National Security Council (NSC)
Roy Cimatu secretary Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Benjamin Defensor director CDC
Ricardo David undersecretary DND
Emmanuel Bautista executive director Office of the Executive Director on Security, Justice and Peace Cluster
Ricardo Visaya administrator National Irrigation Administration
Jason Aquino administrator National Food Authority
Nicanor Faeldon commissioner Bureau of Customs
Danilo Lim chair Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
Eduardo “Red” Kapunan ambassador to Myanmar
Catalino Cuy officer in charge and undersecretary for peace and order Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)
Nestor Quinsay Jr. assistant secretary DILG
Arthur Tabaquero undersecretary Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs
Rufino Lopez deputy director general NSC
Cardozo Luna undersecretary DND
Eduardo del Rosario undersecretary for civil, veterans and retiree affairs DND
Raymundo Elefante — undersecretary for finance and materiel DND
Cesar Yano undersecretary for defense operations DND
Ricardo Jalad Administrator and executive director, respectively Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council
Marciano Paynor Jr. undersecretary Office of the President (OP)
Ernesto Carolina administrator Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO)
Raul Caballes deputy administrator PVAO
Rodolfo Demosthenes Santillan deputy administrator for operations OCD
Jonathan Martir government arsenal director DND
Anselmo Simeon Pinili special envoy on transnational crime OP
Allan Guisihan executive director Philippine Center on Transnational Crime
Dickson Hermoso assistant secretary for peace and security affairs Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Edgar Galvante assistant secretary Land Transportation Office
Isidro Lapeña director general Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)
Jesus Fajardo deputy director general for administration PDEA
Jaime Morente commissioner Bureau of Immigration
Eduardo Gongona national director Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Jose Jorge Corpuz chair Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)
Alexander Balutan general manager PCSO
Reynaldo Berroya administrator Light Rail Transit Authority
Rodolfo J. Garcia general manager Metro Rail Transit 3
Reuben Lista president and CEO Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC)
Oscar Rabena director PNOC-Exploration Corp.
Bruce Concepcion director PNOC
Adolf Borje director PNOC
Alan Luga trustee Government Service Insurance System
Ferdinand Golez director Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA)
Romeo Poquiz director BCDA
Raul Urgello director Philippine Sugar Corp.
Abraham Bagasin director John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC)
Reynald Mapagu director North Luzon Railway Corp.
Michael Mellijor Tulen director Philippine National Railways
Roberto Estioko president National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP)
Rolando Jungco executive vice president NDCP
Jessie Cardona technical assistant Office of the Executive Secretary-AntiTerrorism Council-Program Management Center
Jim Sydiongco director general Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
Manuel Antonio Tamayo deputy director general CAAP
Eduardo Davalan director JHMC
Eduardo Año incoming secretary DILG
Eduardo del Rosario head Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)

 

US stooges

It is no secret the AFP implements US-designed counterinsurgency plans such as Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, Oplan Bayanihan and the current Oplan Kapayapaan.  In fact, the 2006 US Quadrennial Defense Review called the AFP its “surrogate army”, a long-term junior partner of the US Armed Forces. Among the major influences in the development of US counterinsurgency strategy were the Philippine-American War of 1901 and the Huk pacification campaign during the 1950s.

Illustration from Cartoons and Philippine Politics

US’s counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines are most rabidly implemented by high ranking officers who are trained by the US Armed Forces in its School of the Americas in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They are taught how to wage low-intensity conflicts that aim to drain the waters where the fish swim. This usually means attacking civilian communities perceived to be supportive of the NPA. In turn, this leads to countless human rights violations.

Top AFP generals, many of whom are now posing as civil servants in the US-Duterte regime are experts in the US counterinsurgency “whole-of-nation” concept. The program, a US Army magazine says, is the approach adopted for the AFP’s Internal and Security Plan with the “advice and assistance of the Joint Special Operations Task Force (of the US Armed Forces).”

“Although authored by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the plan encompasses a whole-of-nation approach, with a focus on coordinating all efforts under the broad direction of a national internal-security strategy,” explains the article, written by a Col. Fran Beaudette of the Special Warfare Magazine published in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Based on assessments of who among them are able to carry out US-designed and directed counterinsurgency plans, officers are promoted to generals.

Duterte feigned ignorance when US military presence was revealed immediately after the Marawi crisis broke out last May. In a press conference in Cagayan de Oro last June 11, Duterte acknowledged it was the defense department that decided to seek help from the US armed forces. “I am not aware of that until they arrived. When I declared martial law, I gave the power to the defense department,” he said,  gesturing at defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana then standing beside him. He had tapped Lorenzana as martial law administrator shortly after he declared martial law in the entire Mindanao  on May 23, 2017.

Despite his rhetorics, it has become clear that Duterte is a US puppet who wreaks havoc on the Filipino people not only through the AFP but also through the former AFP officers in the civilian bureaucracy. “All of them, most of them, nag-schooling sa America. So, talaga, ang siyentimiyento nito, pro-American. Pro-American talaga ang mga sundalo natin. That I cannot deny,” Duterte said. (All of them, most of them, were schooled in America. So, really, their sentiment is pro-American. Our soldiers are pro-American. That I cannot deny.)

Even in their current civilian capacities, these former generals are still known to champion US military interests in the Philippines. Lorenzana, Esperon and Año in fact were instrumental in pushing the servile Congress to vote overwhelmingly to extend martial law in Mindanao by five more months until the end of this year.

The true character of Duterte’s regime is now on open display with human rights violators, putschists, US-trained wardogs, and peace saboteurs teeming in his government.

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