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military in bureaucracy

“My Soldiers”, the Duterte regime’s backbone

in Countercurrent

Here is an initial list of ex-military and police officials in the civilian bureaucracy—from the Cabinet to the major attached agencies, and in government-owned corporations—proof that indeed Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has militarized the civilian bureaucracy.

Duterte’s penchant for favouring the military and police has nothing to do with the soldiers’ so-called obedience and efficiency, as he claimed. Terribly scared to get ousted, Duterte had to accord the armed forces with power, status, and resources to secure their loyalty. More importantly, the militarization of the bureaucracy is part of the regime’s counterinsurgency program, the whole-of-nation approach (WONA), a concept that has failed in the previous regimes but, which the Duterte regime is trying hard to bring back to life by posting ex-military and police officials in key government positions.

“To serve as an “efficient mechanism and structure” for implementing the WONA, the National Task Force (NTF) was created, headed by President Duterte as chair, with his national security adviser (Hermogenes Esperon Jr.) as vice-chair. NTF members are ranking officials of the following departments: Internal and Local Government, Justice, National Defense, Public Works, Budget, Finance, Agrarian Reform, Social Welfare, Education, Economic Development, Intelligence, TESDA, Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process; plus the presidential assistant for indigenous peoples concerns, NCIP chair, AFP chief, PNP chief, PCOO secretary and two private sector representatives.”

To date, there are seven department secretaries, six officials with Cabinet-level rank, 28 department undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, and 25 officials of attached agencies who were officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Also, notable in this list are the “recycled” presidential appointees who were transferred from one agency to another even as they were involved in scandals, mainly corruption cases. Pres. Duterte can’t seem to let go of them. Among his obvious favourites were Isidro Lapeña, Allen Capuyan, and Nicanor Faeldon—who currently does not hold any government position, not yet.

There are also a number of appointees who came from Davao or those assigned in Davao City while Duterte was mayor. And, there are the Gloria Arroyo men—seven AFP and police officers associated with Gloria Arroyo are also in the Duterte administration: Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Eduardo Año, Roy Cimatu, Allen Capuyan (all four remain highly influential and dominant in the Duterte regime), Rodolfo “Garic” J. Garcia, Roberto Lastimoso, and Reynaldo Berroya (all three are in a government-owned corporation).

Also included in this list, although unnumbered, are some of the names of previous appointees who resigned or were reassigned. The list could go over a hundred names more if those in the regional offices and positions lower than those in this list are included; and those who were earlier appointed but were replaced but information on their subsequent assignments is not available.

Department Secretaries (7)

1. Roy Cimatu, Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). A former Philippine Army general who became Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under Gloria Arroyo. When he retired from the military, Arroyo appointed him as Special Envoy to the Middle East during the Iraq War. Cimatu is also head of the Task Force Covid-19 for Visayas.

2. Gringo Honasan, Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Retired Army officer who became senator, Honasan was appointed DICT chief, despite questions on his qualifications that failed to meet the requirements of the Law which created the Department.

· Eliseo Rio Jr., Undersecretary, OIC, DICT. Retired BGen Rio was Undersecretary for Operations of the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology and once headed the department from 2017 to 2019 as Officer-in-charge. He resigned in 2020 after questioning Honasan’s cash advance from confidential funds worth Php 300 million.

3. Eduardo Año, Interior and Local Government (DILG). A retired Philippine Army general who served as AFP Chief of Staff (2016 to 2017). Aside from the Philippine Military Academy, he also studied in the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School and in the Israel Counter Terrorism Center. He was appointed Martial Law Administrator in Mindanao during the Marawi siege. Año figured in in numerous cases of human rights violations, notably during the Arroyo regime.

4. Delfin Lorenzana, National Defense (DND). Former Army general and defense attaché to the United States, Lorenzana also served as commander of the Special Operations Command, and the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion in Malagos, Davao City. He was assigned to the Presidential Security Group as commander of the Light Armored Brigade for Presidents Cory Aquino, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Arroyo. His work included the laying down of foundation for the establishment of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU).

5. Rolando Bautista, Social Work and Development (DSWD). Immediately before his retirement, he led the Presidential Security Group, then the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army under the Duterte regime. He was overall ground commander of the Joint Task Force during the Marawi siege and was later promoted Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

6. Eduardo del Rosario, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD). A veteran of the Philippine Army, he was commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command and of the 2nd Infantry Division. He was also commander of Task Force Davao which revived Alsa Lumad, a counter-insurgency program in the 1990s that mobilised the Lumad indigenous communities against the New People’s Army.

7. John Rualo Castriciones. Castriciones is a member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1994. As a cadet during Martial law, he was accused in the hazing death of a fellow cadet and sentenced to five years imprisonment by a military court.

Officials with Cabinet-level rank (6)

8. Hermogenes Esperon Jr, National Security Adviser. He was the Chief of Staff of the (2006-2008) and Commanding General of the Philippine Army (2005 to 2006) under the Arroyo regime. He was also Arroyo’s Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and later, head of the Presidential Management Staff.

9. Catalino Cuy, Chairman, Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB). He was acting interior secretary of the DILG. A retired police director, he was reappointed to the DDB when General Año assumed post at the DILG.

10. Danilo Lim, chairperson of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). He was Scout Ranger commander Brig. Gen. He was jailed from 2006 to 2010 for rebellion charges and attempted coup d’état. In 2007, he was again involved in a standoff at the Peninsula Manila hotel in Makati, where he called for Arroyo’s ouster. He was Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs under the Aquino III regime.

11. Ricardo Jalad, Executive Director, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). He served the Philippines Army for 32 years and retired with a rank of Brigadier General. He was commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command and of the 2nd Infantry Division.

12. Carlito Galvez Jr., Presidential Peace Adviser, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) was retired general who was AFP Chief-of-Staff under Duterte government. He led the AFP Western Mindanao Command during the Marawi siege. In 1989, he was among the officers involved in a failed coup attempt against President Corazon Aquino.

13. Isidro Lapeña, director general, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda). A retired police general, Tesda is Lapena’s third government position under the Duterte regime. He was first appointed Director General of PDEA and was later transferred to the Bureau of Customs as commissioner. It was under his term that the controversial smuggling of P11 billion worth of shabu slipped past the Bureau. In 2019, Lapeña faced two counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, dereliction of duty and grave misconduct over the two incidents of shabu shipments. He was the Deputy Director for Administration of the PNP Special Action Force Command and Davao City Director of Police Office. This is Lapena’s third appointment under the Duterte regime. He was first assigned to PDEA and then as Customs commissioner.

Department Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries (28)

14.Dickson Hermoso, chief of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). He was army colonel of the 6th Infantry Division that fought against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). He was first appointed by Duterte as assistant secretary for peace and security affairs at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

15. Eduardo Gongona, National Director, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Undersecretary for Fisheries-Department of Agriculture. Gongona is a retired Commodore of the Philippine Coast Guard.

16. Rodolfo Cadiz Garcia, Undersecretary, DENR. The former Armed Forces vice chief of staff military general Garcia was a PMA classmate of present DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu. He is both DENR’s Undersecretary for Attached agencies and chief of staff. He was undersecretary of the OPAPP and was part of the peace panel which negotiated with the MILF during the Arroyo regime.

17. Nestor Quinsay, Assistant Secretary, DILG. The former Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Director now oversees the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Quinsay was also PNP’s Acting Director for Directorate for Intelligence and Director for Police Community Relations Group. Also in 2017, his wife Evelyn Quinsay was appointed member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

18. Ricardo David, Undersecrerary for Defense Policy, Department of National Defense (DND). He was Chief of staff of the Philippine Armed Forces under the Aquino III regime.

19. Cardozo Luna, Undersecretary, DND. A retired three-star general and former Vice Chief of Staff of the AFP. Cardozo Luna also served as the commander of two unified commands, Eastern Mindanao Command and Central Command. As chief of the Central Command he vowed to destroy the CPP-NPA to “inconsequential level through simultaneous in-depth operations”, among them through strengthening of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit battalions. Later, Luna was appointed Gloria Arroyo as Philippine Ambassador to Netherlands.

20. Reynaldo Mapagu, Undersectary for Civil, Veterans and retiree Affairs, DND. He was AFP vice chief of staff. Prior to this, Pres. Arroyo appointed Mapagu Army chief during her term. He was chief of the First Scout Ranger Regiment from 2006 to 2008 before he was assigned to lead the Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Davao and then the National Capital Region Command.

21. Raymundo Elefante, Undersecretary for Finance and Materiel, DND. Elefante was commander of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC).

22. Cesar Yano, Undersecretary for Defense Operations, DND. Retired Brig. Gen. Cesar B. Yano was in military service for 34 years. He was assistant chief of staff for civil military operations and spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division Mindanao. He was also chief of staff of the 7th Infantry Division and the Northern Luzon Command. He is the younger brother of Alexander Yano, Arroyo’s former AFP chief of staff who was later appointed ambassador to Brunei.

23. Daniel Casabar, Director, Government Arsenal, DND. He was commander of the Army’s elite units. Retired Maj. Gen. Daniel Casabar headed the Special Operations Command.

24. Arnel Duco, Undersecretary for special concerns (legislative matters), DND. He was AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. In 2016, BGen. Arnel M Duco was senior military aide to the defense secretary Lorenzana.

25. Ricardo Jalad, Undersecreatary, Administrator of Office of Civil Defense, Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)-DND. Retired BGen. Jalad served the Philippine Army for 32 years. He was Assistant Division Commander of the 5th ID-PA, among his other assignments. He also served as Brigade Commander of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, Chief of the Unified Command Staff of the Southern Luzon Command, among others.

26. Josue S. Garveza Jr, Assistant Secretary for Financial Management, DND. He was commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army during the Aquino III regime. He was later forced to retire under the attrition law.

27. Teodoro Cirilo Torralba III, Assistant Secretary for Assessments and International Affairs, DND. The Brigadier General was military adviser at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) when he presided over the court martial proceedings in the trial of four army officers in a botched Basilan operation that killed 19 soldiers.

28. Antonio Bautista, Assistant Secretary for Human Resource, DND. He was AFP deputy chief of staff for reservists and retirees affairs during the Arroyo regime.

29. Manuel Felino V. Ramos, Assistant Secretary for Installations and Self-Reliant Defense Posture, DND. He was a Colonel of the Philippine Army.

30. Angelito M. De Leon, Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs, DND. He was commander of the7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Fort Magsaysay. He was also AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) and Chief of the AFP Command Center.

31. James A. Layug, Director at the Office of Assistant Secretary for Installations and Self-Reliant Defense Posture, DND. He was first appointed Director of Port Operations Service, AOCG and Chief of the Anti-Smuggling Unit of the Office of the Commissioner at the Bureau of Customs. He was a Lieutenant Senior Grade in the Philippine Navy AFP.

32.Jesus Rey Avilla, Assistant Secretary for Logistics and Acquisitions, DND. He was Deputy Inspector General of the AFP.

33. Ernesto Carolina, Undersecretary, Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affair Office (PVAO)-DND. Lt. Gen. Carolina held, among others, the following posts in the AFP: Commander, 78th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army (PA); Chief, AFP Liaison Office for Legislative Affairs; Chief of Staff, 4th Infantry Division, PA; Commander of the 401st Infantry Brigade, PA; Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Division, PA; Commander, Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM); Commander, Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), AFP in Mindanao; and The Deputy Chief of Staff, AFP.

34. Raul Z. Caballes, Assistant Secretary, Deputy Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO)-DND. MGen. Caballes was AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Communication, Electronics, and Information Systems (2005- 2007).

35. Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo, Alternate Chairperson of the Civil Aviation of the Philippines (CAAP) Board; Undersecretaty for Aviation & Airports, Department of Transporation (DOTR). He was Chief of Intelligence President Security Group (1988) and Deputy Chief Intelligence of the (1986) when he was also Presidential Escort to President Corazon C. Aquino to the USA.

36. Manuel S. Gonzales, Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns, DOTR. From 2013-2014, BGen. Gonzales was commander of the AFP Joint Task Force in the National Capital Region assigned to combat “terrorism” in Metro Manila.

37. Fidel Igmedio T. Cruz, Jr. Assistant Secretary for Railways, DOTR. BGen. Cruz served as Deputy Commander of the 355th Aviation Engineering Wind of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). In 2013, he led an all-PAF Philippine contingent to Liberia to assist in the “maintenance of law and order.

38. Edgar Galvante, Assistant Secretary, Chief of Land Transportation Office (LTO)-DOTR.
Galvante is a retired police director-general who was deputy chief for operations and director for the NCR Police Office. Galvante is a permanent member of the Dangerous Drugs Board.

39. Rene Glen Paje, Undersecretary, Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD). The retired major general led the First Scout Ranger Regiment during the Marawi siege. The current DSWD secretary Rolando Bautista was Paje’s Army commander.

40. Emmanuel Bautista, Undersecretary and Executive Director of the Security, Justice and Peace Cluster-Office of the President (OP). He was AFP chief of staff before his appointment as Undersecretary at the Office of the President. He headed the National Task Force on the Whole of Nation Initiative and was also the executive Director of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea.

41. Arthur Tabaquero, Undersecretary, Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs, OP. He served as commander of the AFP East Mindanao Command. He was also commander of the 8th Infantry Division in Leyte and a short stint in the National Capital Region Command. Tabaquero is from PMA Class of 1978, the adopted class of Gloria Arroyo.

Officials of Attached Agencies (25)

42. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Commissioner, Bureau of Customs (BOC). The retired Army general was AFP Chief of Staff. He was also commander of the Task Force Davao. He was previously appointed administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) from April to October 2018. He is the third BOC commissioner under the Duterte regime. Previous BOC chief were former AFP officers Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña were involved in a drug smuggling controversy at the Bureau. After BOC, Faeldon was transferred to the Office of Civil Defense-DND and later to the Bureau of Corrections. Currently, he no longer holds any government post. Yet.

43. Raniel Ramiro, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, (BOC). Former BGen Ramiro was already acting head of the Customs’ Intelligence Group before his formal appointment in 2019. He was AFP-Peace Process Office Chief who, in 2018, initiated the formation of the Peace and Development Forces (PDF) to members of the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, former rebels who surrendered and have long been part of the government’s paramilitary group.

44. Donato San Juan, Deputy Commissioner for Internal Administration Group (IAG) BOC. San Juan was the 57th superintendent of PMA and served in different command positions in the AFP.

45. Jessie Cardona, Director III, BOC. The former PNP senior superintendent was officer-in-charge of the Ilocos Sur Police Provincial Office. He was also part of the Anti-Terrorism Council Program Management Center as the new head of the Bureau accreditation office (AMO).

46. Gerald Bantag, Bureau of Corrections-Department of Justice (DOJ). Bantag was an enlisted man of the Philippine Marines Corps. He was the director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in MIMAROPA. He is the 3rd BuCor chief under the Duterte regime. Army official Nicanor Faeldon and PNP chief Ronald Bato de la Rosa previously held the post.

47. Jaime Morente, CEO VI, Commissioner, Bureau of Immigration-DOJ. A member of the PMA “Dimalupig” Class of 1981, Commissioner Morente handled various positions in the Philippine National Police and in the Philippine Constabulary. He was Duterte’s police chief in Davao City.

48. Allan Iral, Chief, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-DILG. Iral is a member of the Philippine National Police Academy Sandigan Class of 1994. Iral worked as Davao City Jail chief (2004-2006) and jail chief of Davao Region (2014-2015), the same period that Duterte was City mayor. He became BJMP’s director for operations, for personnel and human resource, and for logistics and was once head of the BJMP Central Visayas.

49. Gerardo Gambala, Director IV Transport Security Oversight and Compliance Service OTS-DOTR. A former Army captain Gambala was among the 20 Magdalo officers brought in to the Burueau of Customs when Faeldon was appointed chief. Gambala was deputy commissioner who was linked to the controversial P6.4-billion shabu smuggled from China. He, and Milo Maestrecampo, also an army official, were reappointed to DOTR when they resigned from the Bureau of Customs.

50. Milo Maestrecampo, Assistant Director, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)-DOTR. The former military officer of the Magdalo group was reappointed to the DOTR despite allegations of corruption on the release of a P6.4-billion illegal drug shipment from China. He was Import Assessment Services (IAS) director at Bureau of Customs.

51. Cedrick Train, Security Director IV, Office for Transportation Security-DOTR. Appointed by Duterte in March 2019, Train was police regional director in General Santos City. Train is said to be close to Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

52.Robert Empedrad, Administrator, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA)-DOTR. Vice Admiral Empedrad was flag officer in command of the Philippine Navy. He was also Chief of Staff of Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao; Director, Naval Operations Center; He was Chairman of Defense Acquisition System Assessment Team (DASAT), in charge of the updates on Navy Ships, including the controversial Frigate Acquisition Project. Empedrad replaced Ronald Joseph Mercado who was involved in the Frigate controversy.

53. Ricardo Banayat, Deputy Director General for Operation, CAAP-DOTR. He was Air Force brigadier general and former Commander of the PAF’s 1st Air Division.

54. Antonio Gardiola Jr. LTFB, member, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). A retired police chief superintendent, Gardiola was Bicol police regional director in 2017. In 2016, he headed both the PNP Highway Patrol Group and the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic. He is from PMA Class 1986.

55. Archimedes Viaje, Director IV, President, National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP)-DND. BGen Viaje was a commission officer in the Philippine Navy. He was part of the Corps of Professors and headed the Command Guidance and Counselling Office of the PMA and later as head of the Department of Social Sciences of the Academic Group. He served as chief of the Military Affairs Division and Chief of Staff of the President of the NDCP.

· Prior to Viaje’s appointment, another retired military officer Roberto Estioko was president of the NDCP. Estioko was AFP vice commander of the Philippine Navy.

· Former AFP-Civil Relations Service chief BGen. Rolando Jungco was previously listed as Executive Vice President of the NDCP although the position is now declared vacant.

56. Casiano Monilla, Assistant Secretary, Civil Defense Deputy Administrator for Operations, OCD-DND. Retired BGen Monilla was Assistant Division Commander, 10th ID-PA.

57. Henry Anthony M. Torres, Director Region 8, Office of the Civil Defense (OCD)-DND. Col. Torres was among the Oakwood mutineers who brought in to the Bureau of Customs in 2017 when Gerardo Gambala became Deputy Commission of BOC’s Management Information System and Technology Group.

58. Allen Capuyan, Executive Director, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-DSWD. Ret. Col. Capuyan was chief for operations at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) under the Arroyo administration. This is Capuyan’s 4th post under the Duterte regime. He was first assistant general manager for security and emergency services of the Manila International Airport Authority. Implicated in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling, he was reappointed undersecretary as Presidential Adviser on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns. In 2019, he was appointed executive director of the National Secretariat of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

59. Alex Monteagudo, Director General, National Intelligence Coordination Agency (NICA)-Office of the President (OP). Monteagudo was police director of the PNP. Among others, he was assigned as Provincial Director of Cotabato, PNP Regional 12 Director, and director of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management and later for Operations.

60. Rufino Lopez, Deputy Director General, National Security Council (NSC)-Office of the President (OP). Retired Rear Admiral Rufino Lopez was AFP inspector general. He was chair of the Ad Hoc Committee which was created to investigate a supposed coup against Gloria Arroyo on Feb. 24 and the stand-off at the Marine Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio two days later. Among those investigated were Brig.Gen Danilo Lim, chief of the First Scout Rangers Regiment, Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, commander of the Philippine Marines, Col. Ariel Querubin, head of the Marines in Lanao province.

61. Vicente M. Agdamag, Deputy Director General, NSC-OP. Retired Rear Admiral Agdamag was commander of the Naval Education and Training Command of the AFP. As director of the NSC, Agdamag is also a member of the NTF-ELCAC.

62. Damian Carlos, Deputy Director General, NSC-OP. Ret. Admiral Carlos was appointed by Gloria Arryo Coast Guard commandant in 2006. Immediately before this appointment he was Coast Guard deputy commandant for administration. His other previous assignments were Coast Guard district commander in Palawan and in the NCR. He also became commander of Coast Guard Operating Forces.

63. Bruce Concepcion, Special Envoy on Transnational Crime, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC)-OP. Lt. Colonel Bruce Concepcion became public information officer of the Philippine Air Force. He served the military for 26 years and was awarded, among others, The Outstanding Pilipino Soldier (TOPS) Award. Prior to his current position, he was PCTC chief consultant for the Visayas and Mindanao. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC).

64. Allan Guisihan, Executive Director, PCTC-OP. In 2010, Guisihan was director of the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) who was under investigation for his alleged involvement in illegal mining activities in Iloilo when he was promoted officer-in-charge of the Region 6 Police Office. He became part of its directorial staff, the fourth highest position in PNP-Western Visayas.

65. Wilkins Villanueva, Director General, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). Duterte appointed Villanueva in May 2020 to replace Aaron Aquino who was reassigned as president and CEO of the Clark International Airport Corp. (Ciac). Villanueva was among those who crafted the anti-drug programs of the PDEA and the PNP, including “Oplan Tokhang.” He headed PDEA’s Northern Mindanao office prior to this appointment. Villanueva is the third PDEA director general under the Duterte regime. The first two were Isidro Lapeña and Aaron Aquino. Aquino is now president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Clark International Airport Corp.

66. Gregorio Pimentel, Deputy Director General, PDEA. Pimentel was head of the Directorate for Intelligence of the PNP. He replaced Jesus Fajardo who joined former PDEA director general Isidro Lapeña at the Bureau of Customs in 2018. He was also head of the PNP Highway Patrol Group in the Davao region.

· Retired Major General Jesus Fajardo was chief of the 2nd Air Division of the Philippine Air Force. He is a member of the PMA Class 1978. From BOC, MGen. Fajardo was later transferred to TESDA as Region 3 Director when Lapeña was reassigned to TESDA.

Officers in Government-owned and Controlled Corporations (22)

67. Ferdinand Golez, Director, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). Retired Vice Admiral Golez has been with the BCDA since 2011. He was appointed by Gloria Arroyo Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy from 2008-2010. Golez was also commander of the Naval Education and Training Command based in Zambales. Golez is from PMA Class 1976, a batchmate of AFP Chief of Staff Alexander Yano and Army Chief Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado. He is the brother of Roilo Golez.

68. Glorioso Miranda, Director, BCDA. Lt. Gen. Miranda was commanding general of the Philippine Army. He served both as acting chief of staff and vice chief of staff of the AFP. He became chief of the Northern Luzon Command and the 7th Infantry Division-PA, among other commands.
69. Benjamin Defensor, Director, Clark Development Corporation (CDC). General Defensor was the 26th Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force and the 30th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

70. Aaron Aquino, President and Chief Executive Officer, Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC). Retired Police chief superintendent was reassigned by Duterte to CIAC on May 2020 leaving his post as PDEA director general. This is Aquino’s second post under the Duterte regime. Aquino was in the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the presidency of Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos. He was chief of the Police Regional 3 Office. He was part of “Oplan Double Barrel”—Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.

71. Eduardo Davalan, Director, John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC). Retired BGen. Davalan was regiment commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment-Philippine Army. Among his previous military assignments were: 7th and 10th ID-PA; Commander in Northern Luzon, Scout Ranger Training School; Security Officer Chief JUSMAG; Head Department of Ground Warfare at the Philippine Military Academy.

72. Miguel dela Cruz Abaya, Director, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). Abaya was Regional Commander of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP). He represents the military and police institutions in the DBP Board. DBP provides finance facilities for the AFP-PNP modernization programs.

73. Alan Luga, Trustee, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Lt. Gen. Luga was Vice Chief of Staff of the AFP. He served as Commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command. He previously headed the 802nd and 1001st Infantry Brigade and the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. He was a member of the GRP Peace Panel for the GRP-MILF Peace Talks as the Chairman of the ADHOC Joint Action Group, OPAPP. Currently, he also heads the AFP General Insurance Corporation.

74. Reynaldo Berroya, Administrator, Light Rail Transit Administration (LRTA). Retired police general Berroya was appointed by Gloria Arroyo PNP intelligence chief and later regional director of the Central Luzon police then as director of the PNP Civil Security Group based in Camp Crame. He was a friend of then Vice President Joseph Estrada who brought Berroya into the anti-kidnapping group headed by Estrada. Berroyo was found guilty and sentenced to jail in 1995 for his involvement in the May 11, 1993 kidnapping of Taiwanese national Jack Chou.

· Former general Danilo Lim also sits as Board Member of LRTA in his capacity as chairperson of the Metro Manila Development Authority.

75. Rodolfo “Garic” Jasminez Garcia, General Manager, MRT3 DOTR. Garcia, a retired police general, was chief of PNP Intelligence Group during the presidency of Fidel Ramos. Pres. Arroyo appointed him chief of PNP Region 12 and later as MRT Director for Operations, the same time Arroyo appointed Reynaldo Berroya general manager of MRT 3. Garcia and Berroya were classmates at the PMA.

76. Ricardo Visaya, Administrator, National Irrigation Administration (NIA). He was AFP chief of staff. He was assistant division commander of 6th Infantry Division and former commander of the 4th Infantry Division before he headed the Southern Luzon Command.

77. Abraham Bagasin, Senior Deputy Administrator, NIA. BGen. Bagasin was AFP chief of staff. He became commander of the 11th Infantry Battalion in Negros Island and of the First Scout Ranger Regiment. Prior to his appointment to NIA, Duterte appointed him director of the John Hay Management Corporation.

78. Romeo Gan, Deputy Administrator for Administrative and Finance Sector (NIA). MGen. Gan was Commander of the 2ID “Jungle Fighter” Division of the Philippine Army. He became Assistant Division Commander of the 6th ID based in Maguindanao before he was appointed civil relations chief. Generals Gan, Visaya, and Bagasin belong to the same PMA class 1983.

79. Anselmo Simeon Pinili, Chairperson, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Retired police general Anselmo Pinili replaced former PCSO Chair Jose Jorge Corpuz who resigned for “health reasons” in 2018. Pinili was Special Envoy on Transnational Crime until 2018; and Deputy Regional Director for Administration at the Police Region 11 office. Pinili batted for a localized “peace talks” between the government and the revolutionary forces in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley. In May 2019, graft complaints were filed at the Ombudsman against Pinili and other PCSO officials.

· Jose Jorge Corpuz, a retired chief superintendent was appointed in 2017 chair of the PCSO. He was the director for Integrated Police Operations for Southern Luzon. He resigned in 2018.
80. Royina Garma, Vice Chairperson and General Manager, PCSO. Garma was Cebu City police chief who was appointed by Duterte in 2019 to replace ex-Marine general Alexander Balutan. Garma, prior to her appointment as Cebu City police chief, was administrative officer and then head of the Davao City’s Women and Children’s Protection Desk. She was also chief of Sasa and Sta. Ana police precincts in Davao City.

· Gen. Balutan was appointed in PCSO in 2016 but he was dismissed because of overspending for the PCSO’s Christmas party and for favoring a certain company for small town lottery operations.

81. Roberto Lastimoso, Chairperson, Philippine National Railways (PNR). Lastimoso was already in various government agencies after his stint as PNP director general. He was general manager of MRT 3 and chief of Land Transportation Office during the Arroyo regime. He was also Vice-Chairman of GRP peace panel with MNLF, Senior Police Assistant of DILG.

82. Michael Mellijor Tulen, Director, PNR. Appointed in November 2016, retired Police Superintendent Tulen is from Tagum City. He headed the Investigation Detective Management Section (IDMS) of the Provincial Police Office in Davao del Norte.

83. Marlene Romero Padua, Director, Health Care Providers Sector Representative, PhilHealth. Retired BGen. Padua served as chief nurse of the 4th Infantry Division-PA, Philippine Navy, and the AFP. Aside from sitting in the Philhealth Board of Directors, she is also currently Chair of the PNP Health Service Advisory Council, PNP Health Service PATROL Plan, Dean of College of Nursing of the Arellano University-Pasig.

· Dante A. Gierran was recently appointed PhilHealth President and CEO after retired Army general Ricardo Morales resigned “for health reasons” amid a string of corruption charges rocked Philhealth. Gierran, technically do not belong the “ex-military and police officials category” as he was Director of the NBI, an attached agency of the Justice Department. He was also acting Region XI director of the NBI in Davao City.

· Ricardo Morales, a retired Army general, was appointed by Duterte in 2019 President and CEO of PhilHealth, a few days after he was placed as member of the MWSS board of trustee. Morales was aide de camp of former first lady Imelda Marcos but at the same time a member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), who served as the rebel soldiers’ informant in Malacanang. In the succeeding years, he became executive officer at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of Plans and then director of the Army Modernization and Strategic Studies Office.

84. Reuben Lista, President and Chief Executive Officer, Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC). Retired Admiral Lista was Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). He held various positions in the Philippine Navy, AFP, and the Philippine Coast Guard. He was commander of Marine Environmental Protection Command, of the 1st Coast Guard District, and the 8th Coast Guard District (Davao), among others. He was also part of the Presidential Security Command (PSC), National Intelligence and Security Authority (NISA) and the Office of the President (OP).

85. Romeo de Vera Poquiz, Director, PNOC. A retired Major General, Poquiz was Commander of the 2nd Air Division, Air Force in the Visayas; Air Force Inspector General; Deputy Commander, 1st Air Division; and Wing Commander, 710th Special Operations Wing, among others. Prior to his appointment to the PNOC, he was director of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation, and the Bonifacio Transport Corporation.

86. Adolf Borje, Director, PNOC. Retired Rear Admiral Borje was Commander of Naval Forces South. He became chief of Naval staff and chief of Naval Operations of the Philippine Navy. After retirement he was consultant of Davao City for Public Safety and Welfare. He was also security consultant to various companies such as Apex Mining Corporation, Dole/Stanfilco, Sumifru Philippines Corporation, and Banana Growers and Exporters Association, all based in Davao.

· Current Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong was appointed by Duterte in January 2018 to the PNOC Board of Directors. He was deputy chief for operations of the PNP when he retired. He was chief PNP in the Cordillera region and member of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM). He was head of the Special Operations Battalion of the Special Action Force. He was also assigned to the PDEA, CIDC and he chaired the PNP Board of Inquiry on the Mamasapano botched military operation.

87. Rozzano Dosado Briguez, President and Chief Executive Officer, PNOC-Exploration Corporation. Retired Lt. Gen. Briguez was Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force. He was also commander of the AFP Western Command. Other positions he held were: commander of Tactical Operations Group 11 of the Tactical Operations Command in Davao, Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Operations, A-3, 250th Presidential Airlift Wing (Deputy Wing Commander).

88. Oscar Rabena, Director, PNOC-Exploration Corporation. He was Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force. Prior to his designation as Air Force Chief, he was Chief Strategic Planner of the AFP as Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs and Philippine Air Force Inspector General. He became Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs and Commander of 18 Assault Squadron.

Diplomatic Mission (1)

89. Eduardo “Red” Kapunan Jr, Ambassador to Myanmar-DFA. Air Force colonel Kapunan was one of the founders of Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) who was implicated in the murder of labor leader Rolando Olalia and companion Leonor Alay-ay.

In between Duterte’s late night show, who’s on the stage?

in Countercurrent

A series of tragicomedy—and deadly—policies and actions by the Duterte regime have plagued the country and the Filipino people alongside the Corona virus pandemic. On the surface, the regime’s response to the pandemic looked absurd and obviously plucked out from an alternate reality. People call it mema—me-magawa or me-masabi (a popular slang term meaning to look like one is doing or saying something meaningful or relevant). But the mema is actually a consequence of the government’s lack of direction and plan on how to deal with the pandemic and its impact on the country’s already neglected health system and a failing economy. Apparently, the Philippines has become Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 hotspot while the economy has now plunged into recession, the worst in eight decades. Both demonstrate how the regime has gone to rack and ruin. More than six months into the lockdown, the people are more convinced that the criminally negligent regime is deadlier than the COVID-19.

At the onset, health measures such as mass testing, contact tracing, isolation and treatment, and the overall strengthening of the healthcare system (weighed down by the yearly budget cuts even before the pandemic) were sidelined in the battle against COVID-19. With former generals Delfin Lorenzana, Eduardo Año, and Carlito Galvez calling the shots, military and police deployment, lockdown and quarantine, and orders to arrest, jail, and kill the “quarantine violators” were top priority. The measures were largely punitive rather than facilitative, especially in delivering the much-needed services and assistance to the homeless and jobless.

The fascist measures taken by the regime reflect the military’s dominance in the National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF Covid-19); and the absence of health experts and scientists. Since Day 1 the regime has stubbornly stuck to a failed and irrelevant militarist approach despite the continuous rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, slow recovery rate, and the many deaths among health practitioners and those who were infected by the virus. The people, sick with the mishandling of the pandemic embraced and popularized the slogan/hashtag #SolusyongMedikalHindiMilitar. Recently, the slogan has ceased to be just a social media hashtag as calls for the resignation of health secretary Duque and the revamp of the military-dominated task force mounted.

The National Task Force against COVID-19: A militarized response to the pandemic

The actual operations of the NTF Covid-19 follows the command operation of a military organization with the big three generals—Delfin Lorenzana, Eduardo Año and Carlito Galvez—at the top. National defense chief Lorenzana heads the NTF Covid-19 command center, which oversees the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) of the “Bayanihan We Heal as One” Law; while DILG secretary Año sits as vice-chairperson. Third in command is presidential peace adviser Galvez Jr, the “chief implementer” of the NAP. He heads the National Incident Command (NIC) for its daily operations. Later, when Covid-19 cases rose to dangerous level in Cebu City, Duterte chose former AFP chief of staff and environment secretary Roy Cimatu as deputy chief implementer for the Visayas. Cimatu immediately deployed soldiers and tanks to Cebu, a move that was heavily ridiculed by the people.

The NTF dished out policies, oftentimes problematic and in conflict with those in the local government units and the health sector and other frontline workers, and to the detriment of the working class.

How the NTF Covid-19 works with the existing Inter-Agency Task Force Covid-19 (which is under another inter-agency task force for Emerging Infectious Disease, a body created during the term of Pres. Aquino III), the several Czars appointed for quick fix, and the several other task groups is a tangled web. It has neither a beginning nor an end. What is obvious from the public’s view is that the retired generals and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are obviously running the show. DOH’s Duque who was visible in the first few weeks of the pandemic slowly faded from the scene only to reappear later when public demanded for a clear health solution to the pandemic rather than a militarist one. This however did not pacify the people as Duque is largely perceived as corrupt and equally inefficient in handling the pandemic.

Expectedly, the embattled regime shielded its militarist approach and criminal negligence by red-tagging its critics and propagating the pasaway (stubborn, disobedient) narrative against the people, especially the poor. Propped up by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), thousands of trolls, and aided by a number of reporters in the corporate media, the regime blamed anyone and everyone in an effort to get away from its accountability. Only a month after the lockdown, the PNP recorded in April 2020 some 93,000 people accosted for “quarantine violations” while about 24,000 were arrested and slapped with charges. They are mostly workers and urban poor dwellers who were forced to earn a living in the absence, or lack, of government assistance.

In an interview, Prof. Jose Maria Sison aptly described the NTF Covid-19 a “coordinate of the IATF-ELCAC” (Inter-Agency Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) as both task forces are controlled by the same ex-military generals. The NTF Covid-19, Prof. Sison said is, “practically (IATF-ELCAC’s) replication.”

The Inter-Agency Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (IATF-ELCAC): A militarized response to social injustice and poverty

Joining Lorenzana, Año, and Galvez at the helm of the IATF to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (IATF-ELCAC) is national security adviser Hermones Esperon, also a retired general. Esperon is the president’s vice-chair in this task force of 20 cabinet members and two unnamed sectoral representatives.

Created through Executive Order no. 70 in 2018, the IATF-ELCAC embodies Duterte’s rehashed version of the “whole-of-nation” approach started by the Noynoy Aquino regime. It aims to mobilize the whole civilian bureaucracy to end the more than 50 year-old revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP). Essentially, the NTF-ELCAC has militarised the government and establish a fascist state. Lorenzana, Año, Galvez, and Esperon are among the more than 80 ex-military officers and men who dominate the civilian bureaucracy of the Duterte regime. According to Prof. Sison, the NTF-ELCAC fully created Duterte’s military junta.

The NTF-ELCAC, with the regime’s disinformation/misinformation arm and fake news mill, the PCOO and regional headquarters of the AFP and PNP have been notorious in using public funds to spread lies in the country and in the international community. These are specifically directed against the revolutionary movement, the open and legal people’s organizations, leaders of people’s organizations, human rights institutions, and the regime’s critics. Although oftentimes ridiculous and beyond belief, red tagging has already become a death sentence to many activists. During the lockdown, at least five known leaders—including NDFP Peace consultant Randy Echanis and human rights activist Zara Alvares—and hundreds of activists who were red tagged, vilified as terrorists were murdered.

The NTF is also engaged in a big-time racket through fake surrender of “rebels”—most often civilians who were lured or coerced and later presented as rebel surrenderers. Each “surrenderer” is supposedly given at least Php 65,000 cash assistance. In 2018, at least Php 520 million up to Php 715 million were supposedly spent by the government for this program, mostly ending up in the pockets of military officers and their minions since there has never been many real surrenderees.

Dubbed as the generals’ pork, the 2021 NTF-ELCAC proposed budget of Php 16.44 billion through National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr is almost 3000 percent bigger from the 2020 budget. Año justified the budget saying the fund will be used for the construction of farm-to-market roads, barangay health centers, school buildings, obviously a duplication of the functions and budget of existing agencies. The proposed Php 16.44 billion budget excludes the budget in support of the anti-communist campaign spread in various government agencies e.g., the AFP and PNP. The NTF-ELCAC’s budget is three times higher than the budget allocation to combat Covi000
d-19 l0ike purchases of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19 interventions.

Through the NTF-Covid-19, the NTF-ELCAC “has gained more power and resources as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.” Both task forces are used by Duterte “to undertake a de facto martial law regime in the name of fighting the corona virus and to prepare the way for the formal declaration of martial law and the full imposition of a Marcos-type fascist dictatorship.”

While the country was in lockdown, helicopters were used to drop not relief goods but “counterinsurgency” flyers on the remote villages of Sagada and Besao in Mountain Province and in Surigao in Mindanao. Ang Bayan, the official publication of the CPP reported “extensive combat operations” and 14 indiscriminate bombing, strafing, and artillery shelling incidents in Lumad villages in the borders of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, and Davao del Norte from March 24 to April 1. Further, Ang Bayan recorded military attacks in at least 625 barangays of 247 towns in 54 provinces while the country was battling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The highest number of cases of human rights violations was recorded in 149 barangays in Southern Tagalog, 106 in Eastern Visayas, and 101 in Bicol. Meanwhile, 26 incidents of aerial surveillance were also recorded.

The regime’s intense ‘counterinsurgency’ operations happened at the time when CPP-NPA-NDFP’s unilateral ceasefire was in effect from March 26 to April 15. The CPP ceasefire was extended to April 30 when Pres. Duterte lengthened the lockdown; but, the military operations continued. The CPP declaration of a ceasefire was a response to the call of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire during the pandemic.

Simultaneously, in urban and rural centers, humanitarian missions and community kitchens were red-tagged, blocked, and prevented from delivering relief goods to many communities neglected by the government. Worse, those who participated, including a former house representative of the Anakpawis partylist, were arrested, jailed, and charged with made-up charges.

The whole bureaucracy has enabled the IATF-ELCAC to pursue its nefarious activities, aided by the majority of the members of the legislative and judiciary branches of government, which have become Malacanang’s rubberstamps since the beginning of his term. They have enabled the junta to gain traction by providing legal shield to its criminal acts against the people and the revolutionary movement.

It came as no surprise that just as the people fought hard for their lives, livelihood, and their rights amid the regime’s messed up response to Covid-19, measures to suppress further the shrinking “democratic” space such as the ABS-CBN shutdown and the approval of the Terror Law took effect.

The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) of Duterte’s terror law: State terrorism against the fight for freedom and democracy

Dubbed as the generals’ pet bill, the terror law was approved hastily by the Lower House and signed into law by the president on July 3, ahead of any concrete plan to protect the people from the impact of the pandemic.

In a statement the CPP said Duterte’s Terror Law “tears away whatever is left of the ruling state’s trappings of democracy. With a rubberstamp Congress, a compliant Supreme Court, a puppet Comelec/Smartmatic, and now with extraordinary power, Duterte has now placed the entire reactionary government under his virtually unquestioned authority and limitless power.”

To date, there are now almost 40 petitions filed at the Supreme Court against Duterte’s terror law representing the views and arguments of various groups and sectors basically because Duterte’s terror law violates even its own reactionary Constitution. One of the extremely treacherous provisions of the terror law is the creation of an Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), tasked determine who are terrorists and who are not. Dangerously, the ATC it has the powers of both the executive and the judiciary that can issue orders of surveillance, arrest, and detention.

Aside from determining who the “terrorists” are, authorize state forces to arrest people without warrants of arrest, detain without charges for up to 24 days, these presidential appointees act as the sole arbiter under the ATA. The immense power and broad function of the ATC obviously poses risk to people’s rights.

Prof. Sison described the ATC as a “compact board of inquisition and state terrorism.”

The law defined the ATC’s composition as follows: the president’s executive secretary, national security adviser, department secretaries of defense, interior and local government, justice, finance, information and communications technology, foreign affairs, and the executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) secretariat. The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) acts as the council’s secretariat.

Concretely, under the Duterte regime, those in the ATC are: ES Salvador Medialdea (Chairperson), security adviser Esperon (Vice Chairperson), and heads of departments Lorenzana (defense), Año (local government) Medardo Guevarra (justice), Carlos Dominguez (finance), Gregorio Honasan (information and communications technology), Teddy Locsin (foreign affairs), and Mel Georgie Racela (AMLC).

Again, the same anti-communist fascist generals who dominate the NTF Covid-19 and the IATF-ELCAC are in the ATC, namely Esperon, Lorenzana, and Año,

As soon as the president signed the bill into a law, Esperon fired the signal shot by saying they’re making a list of “terrorist” that would, expectedly, include the open, legal, and unarmed people’s organizations and progressive groups constantly tagged by the regime as front organizations of the CPP and supporters of the NPA. After the signal fire, Esperon immediately sniped at the critics of the terror law saying they must be supporters of “terrorists”.

Pres. Duterte often referred to the military and the police as “my soldiers” and the “backbone of (my) administration”. Under the Duterte regime, it has not only become the norm to rely on the military for civilian functions but also to mollycoddle the officers, active or retired, and use them to threaten the people and his critics of a military junta.

A military junta has been among Duterte’s options to remain in power beyond his term in 2022—aside from ensuring reliable successor preferably from his own family. “The current political value for Duterte in having a military junta in prospect is to flatter the military and whet its loyalty to him and at the same time threaten the opposition and the people with the prospect of military junta ruling the country in case of his death or total disability at any time or the failure of his dynastic successor to take over his position,” said Prof. Sison.

The dominance of the military in the Duterte regime means an escalation of its offensives against the revolutionary movement led by the CPP, the NPA, and the NDFP and all the democratic forces in the society even as he face the wrath of the Filipino people and widespread condemnation even in the international community. At the end of the day, he will face the people who will hold him accountable for all his crimes against humanity, for treason, murder, and plunder. ###

Weaponizing the Civilian Bureaucracy

in Countercurrent
by Pat Gambao

Poverty, with its attendant injustices, is the root cause of the protracted armed conflict. On this basis the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH), now under the rein of Rodrigo Duterte, have engaged in peace negotiations.

But when the Duterte regime arbitrarily terminated the peace negotiations it took a complete turnaround. It now points to the armed conflict—read the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA)-NDFP defensive armed struggle —as the cause of poverty and non-development in the country.

Indeed, it is a convenient excuse for the regime to train its guns and utilize various war resources against the revolutionary movement and the masses supporting it. Everywhere, and anywhere now, the Duterte regime sees “Red” and employs “red-tagging” to justify its clamping down against a wide range of legitimate oppositionists, critics, and ordinary civilians.

Taking off from the failed counterinsurgency program of his predecessor, Duterte took a tight grip of Benigno S. Aquino III’s “whole of nation approach” (WNA) embodied in the latter’s Oplan Bayanihan. The “whole of nation approach” readily suggests a semblance of the whole nation—the entire civilian bureaucracy, government-owned and controlled corporations, local government units, plus nongovernmental formations denoted as “other stakeholders” — mobilized against the people’s democratic revolution.

Specifically, the WNA embarked on weaponizing the civilian bureaucracy and boosted the power of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This means blatantly placing the civilian agencies and services of the reactionary government under military centralization.

Under Duterte as strongman, a civilian-military junta, all but in name, is more apparent than ever.

From the beginning of his presidency in 2016, he has continually appointed to key positions in his cabinet and agencies retired high-ranking military and police officers. After a year, in 2017, there were already 60 former AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) officials in the civilian bureaucracy.

To this day he continues to fill up other offices, particularly strategic ones, with ex-military officials, such as the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). Recently, he appointed Gringo Honasan to head the Information and Communication Technology department, replacing another military officer Eliseo Rio, Jr. who stays as undersecretary. Duterte also named Royina Garma, Cebu’s chief of police as new head of the Philippine Charity Sweepstake Office (PCSO). There are now at least 80 former military officials in various executive offices and government-owned and controlled corporations.

In the guise of Cabinet reorganization, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 67 placing more agencies under military supervision in two departments. The EO purportedly aims to “strengthen the democratic and institutional framework of the executive department,” and eliminate “roadblocks and impediments” in pursuing the government’s agenda. Among these agencies are:
National Commission on Muslim Filipinos – transferred to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
Philippine Commission on Women – transferred to DILG
National Youth Commission – transferred to DILG
National Anti-Poverty Commission – transferred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – transferred to DSWD
Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor – transferred to DSWD

The move was followed by Executive Order No. 70 which created a National Task Force (NTF) to provide mechanism and structure to the WNA approach. President Duterte nominally chairs the task force with his national security adviser as vice chair. Certain cabinet members, agency heads, the AFP chief of staff, and two representatives from the private sector sit as members.

More telling, Duterte appointed the notorious retired Colonel Allen Capuyan as executive director or head of the NTF national secretariat. Capuyan’s notoriety dates back to the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, when he headed Task Force Gantangan, which carried out a vicious “internal security plan” against the Lumad (indigenous people) of Mindanao. With his recent appointment as NCIP chairperson, Capuyan now holds two significant offices, one for “counterinsurgency”, the other to facilitate the entry of big business in IP areas such as mining and plantations. Like a number of Duterte appointees, Capuyan has been implicated in a multi-million-peso shabu trade.

More insidiously now, government services are organized into several “operational clusters” (obviously a military parlance), namely: (1)Government Empowerment Cluster; (2) International Engagements Cluster; (3) Legal Cooperation Cluster; (4) Strategic Communications Cluster; (5) Basic Services Cluster; (6) Livelihood and Poverty Alleviation Cluster; (7) Infrastructure and Resource Management Cluster; (8) AFP-PNP Peace and Development Cluster; (9) Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management Cluster; (10) Localized Peace Engagement Cluster; (11) E-Clip and Amnesty Program Cluster; and (12) Sectoral Unification, Capacity Building and Empowerment Cluster.

These clusters serve to support military operations against the revolutionary movement as well as groups and personalities perceived to be opposing Duterte.

Legal Cluster

Take the case of the Legal Cluster. Apart from the justice department, which has control over the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and prosecutors, the cluster consists of government security sectors such as the National Security Council (NSC), AFP/PNP, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), Intelligence Group of the PNP, the NBI, and the NCIP. The latter was thrown into the cluster apparently to watch over Lumad communities and other national minorities who are deemed prime recruits of the NPA.

With the termination of the peace talks on November 23, 2017 and Duterte’s Proclamation No.360 declaring the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations, the legal cluster immediately set into action. The DOJ followed with a list of 656 names alleged to be “terrorist” leaders and members of the CPP-NPA including Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and former chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The list was later trimmed down to eight, but only after arrests had been made and several NDFP consultants incarcerated.

To replace Arroyo’s notoriously-vicious but inept Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), which filed trumped-up cases against her critics based on planted evidence and false witnesses, the Duterte regime formed the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA). Victims of this new body are NDFP consultants Vicente Ladlad, Rafael Baylosis, and Rey Casambre. Ladlad and Casambre are still under detention awaiting trial of their cases. Baylosis, however, has been freed after his arrest was deemed illegal, rendering the consequent case filed against him null and void.

Under IACLA, a remnant trumped-up murder case initiated by IALAG in 2006 was revived against the four progressive former legislators, dubbed by media as “Makabayan 4”: former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. and former National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza, and former Anakpawis Rep. and former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. Warrants of arrest were issued against the four. However, the trial court judge found no merit in the case and summarily dismissed it.

This cluster is likewise working for the legislation of repressive laws, specifically amendments that would water down the Human Security Act (HSA).

International Cluster

The International Engagement Cluster was also set to work. Government security officials were sent “on a caravan” abroad for two objectives: 1) to counter the effective information campaign by human rights organizations critical of the Duterte government’s human rights violations — tagged by the regime as “CPP fronts”— and 2) to “cut their ties”with foreign governments, the United Nations, and international solidarity groups. The trip was an intelligence mission as well as a psyops aimed at maligning the CPP-NPA-NDFP and leaders of the progressive legal organizations. However, its main aim was to sever financial assistance coming from foreign agencies and governments to human rights defenders and legitimate NGOs branded as “communist fronts.”

Earlier, Duterte tapped the state’s own civilian agencies to do surveillance. For one, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued in November 2018 Memorandum Circular Order 15 giving itself the authority to look into the finances of NGOs. It sought to know their sources of funds purportedly to track “money laundering to terrorist funding.” The said Memorandum likewise provides that SEC could ask the police and military to investigate the NGOs without prior notice.

Also, a news report, dated June 3, 2019, quoted Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as saying in his tweet: “Over a month ago I fired off a memo to all our European embassies to tell their host governments to clear any and all donations to their NGOs in the Philippines with the DFA. Or we will deregister them in the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission]. If that hasn’t been done do it now.” He did not provide details. His statement came after Duterte claimed that foreign governments have been supporting so-called communist fronts.
The Philippine government, through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), has submitted to the EU and the Belgian embassy in the Philippines documents supporting claims that NGOs are used to funnel funds to the communist movement.

Immediately, international NGOs who have long supported organizations such as human rights watchdog Karapatan and Lumad school ALCADEV (two of those red-tagged organizations) countered the government’s accusation and firmly stood by their support to these organizations.

After the “international caravan” in January, the Duterte regime sent another group last June 2019 as a follow up to its lobby effort to discredit people’s organizations, specifically, human rights defenders and the Lumad in Mindanao. The Duterte government, spending millions of people’s money, sent its apologists/defenders to Belgium and New York (where they were met with protest actions) and at the recently concluded 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. To the regime’s chagrin, the UNHRC adopted the Iceland-initiated resolution calling on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to make a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in the Philippines to be discussed in the next UNHRC session.

Communications Cluster

Under the Communications Cluster, promotional work for the Duterte regime also includes demonizing the revolutionary movement as “terrorist”. Duterte’s fear of the revolution has extended to media being critical of his regime, with personalities being red-tagged, placed under surveillance, harassed, arrested or killed. In three years, 13 journalists have already been killed. The Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network reported that from June 30, 2016 to April 30, 2019, a total of 128 cases of threats and attacks against the media have been documented. The attacks were unrelenting. From the “Red October” plot to the egregious “Oust Duterte matrix,” clearly the administration is not on a “wait and see” mode but rather on an overactive frenzy. The goal: mass intimidation. The regime is deploying all weapons in its arsenal to police even the opinions of the public: from the employment of a massive “troll army” and other forms of astroturfing or the attempt to bloat supposed public support for policies, resulting in an era where genuine reports and fake news are difficult to tell apart; the ramped-up surveillance of perceived critics of the administration; to imposing martial law in Mindanao, and similar thinly-veiled military efforts in provinces in the Visayas and Luzon.

Alternative media such as Bulatlat, Kodao, Pinoy Weekly, AlterMidya Network and others have been victims of worse cyberattacks known as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) where their sites have been repeatedly attacked, apparently for reasons that they have boldly criticized the regime and covered even developments in the revolutionary movement.

Also, libel and criminal cases are filed against mainstream media with threats of revoking their registrations and franchises, such as in the case of Rappler and ABS-CBN.

Basic Services Cluster

Government agencies providing basic services and programs are clustered together—the DSWD, Housing, TESDA, Education, OPAPP, NAPC— almost all under military domination.

The target of these services and programs are said to be the strongholds of the NPA. Schemes are aimed at plugging the support of the communities to the armed revolution, as well as to draw surrenderees from the people’s army. It is intertwined with the reactionary government’s programs for surrenderees, the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), and “localized peace engagement.” All of these schemes are ridden with deception and corruption.

The E-CLIP has turned out to be one of the regime’s milking cows, because millions of pesos end up in the pockets of military officials. For one, there have not been, if not a few, genuine surrenderees. Most of the so-called rebel returnees were ordinary civilians threatened, coerced and/or herded in plazas and presented to media as “surrenderees”. The Task Force Balik-Loob is said to have spent Php 520 million to Php 715 million in 2018 supposedly for the 8,000-11,000 “NPA surrenderees”—figures that are way beyond the regime’s own estimated current number of NPA members.

Sectoral Cluster

The youth, workers and urban poor groups have been identified as among the breeding grounds of the revolutionary movement. But, among the many sectors, the Lumad of Mindanao and other indigenous people’s groups have been the actual target of the sectoral unification cluster because they reside within the guerrilla fronts in Mindanao and Cordillera.

As planned, the militarized government institutions aim to lure the indigenous peoples with socio-economic programs and pretend to enhance their culture, whereas in fact they rob them of their ancestral lands for the benefit of foreign transnational corporations engaged in mining and oil palm plantation. It is small wonder that martial law was declared and extended in Mindanao where the Lumad and the Bangsamoro carry out revolutionary struggles in defense of their ancestral lands.

The age-old divide and rule tactic has always been employed by the State and is manifested through the “creation” of fake datus, initiated by the NCIP, who become conduits in the plunder of ancestral lands. The existence of AFP-backed paramilitary groups not only divides the indigenous people’s communities but has also caused countless human rights violations among those who stand their ground in defense of their ancestral lands and right to self-determination.

The NTF-ELCAC’s latest bid to subvert the Lumad’s right to self-determination was the order to close 55 Lumad schools in Southern Mindanao based on fabricated information that these schools have been teaching communist ideology to Lumad children. The Philippine government has not spent a single centavo on these schools, yet it has the gall to rob hundreds of Lumad children of their future.

In the end, weaponizing the civilian bureaucracy will only worsen the crisis within the regime and doom it to failure. On one hand corruption, patronage and inefficiency will mar the implementation of the regime’s “counterinsurgency” program as proven many times in the past; on the other hand, the regime will create more enemies than friends as it fails to silence the revolutionary movement and the broad opposition.

By now, more victims of the regime, threatened or otherwise, are joining the ranks of the revolutionary underground and the NPA. On the legal front, even organizations of different political persuasions are closing ranks and have become more emboldened in raising real-time and long-term issues against the regime.

Duterte has got it all wrong. The problem is not the CPP-NPA-NDF. It is still poverty, stupid. Duterte, like his hero Marcos, poorly understands the problems of Philippine society as their lens are clouded by their own self-interests to perpetuate themselves and their families in power.

Duterte’s ambitious and vicious reverie to crush the revolution, sustain “peace” and rule like the grand dictator will never succeed no matter how he masked his counterinsurgency program—earlier named Oplan Kapayapaan and now, a more off-key Oplan Kapanatagan— with a weaponized civil bureaucracy and deodorized by rhetoric of “development” and “humanitarian.” The convoluted reasoning, that the armed conflict is the cause of poverty, and the non-development peddled by Duterte and his armed minions to deceive and win over the people will blow on their very faces.

For as long as the root cause of the armed conflict is not addressed, for as long as the semicolonial and semifeudal state of the Philippine society stays causing abject poverty to and unfettered bondage on the masses, for as long as repression and oppression persist, all of the US-Duterte regime’s schemes are bound to fail. The revolution, which the masses look up to as their sole salvation, will continue to rage and advance to greater heights. #

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