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OPAPP

AFP Sings Old Tune

in Countercurrent

For five decades now, the reactionary state and its armed forces have been singing the song, “It’s Now or Never,” popularized by The Platters band in the 1950’s. They belt it out in an attempt, at first, to nip in the bud the CPP-NPA-NDF, later to “decapitate” the revolutionary organizations and push the rebels to surrender through various counterinsurgency oplans.

Marcos used this tactic. And so did all the succeeding regimes that took their turns with the “restoration” of elite democracy in the country.

Through the years the pattern has been the same: Employ force and deception, carrot and stick; guns and bullets, artillery and bombs; and the lure of financial and material rewards. Fifty years have passed and yet the tactic has repeatedly failed.

What makes Duterte think he can make it work this time around? He blew his chance when he recklessly abandoned the GRP-NDFP peace talks and instead issued the order: Kill, kill, kill.

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.

The “Whole-of-Nation Approach” Chimera

in Editorial

In mid-November last year, President Duterte expressed openness to meet with two leading NDFP negotiating panel members about resuming the formal peace talks that, for the nth time, he had arbitrarily cancelled in July. But his military/security advisers gruffly scuttled that meeting, impelling the NDFP peacemakers—Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni—to cancel their trip. Reason: the security advisers threatened to arrest them should they come to Manila.

That incident demonstrated how easily the internal-security cabal in the Duterte cabinet could interdict and frustrate their president and commander-in-chief whenever he gets sober-minded as to consider returning to the negotiating table with the NDFP under The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. They induced him to endorse their previously repudiated “localized” peace talks, which, not at all surprising, have been totally ignored by all local commands of the revolutionary movement.

On December 4, the internal-security cabal succeeded in inducing Duterte to put his imprimatur on their magnum opus, which spokespersons twice mentioned the AFP would recommend while drumbeating the ludicrous “Red October” Duterte-ouster canard: Executive Order No. 70.

Published in the Official Gazette on December 10 (its date of effectivity), EO 70 is pompously titled, “Institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, creating a National Task Force to end local communist armed conflict, and directing the adoption of a National Peace Framework.”

EO 70 claims that the whole-of-nation approach (WONA) “addresses the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats.” How? “(B)y prioritizing and harmonizing the delivery of basic social services and social development packages by the government, facilitating societal inclusivity, and ensuring active participation of all sectors of the society in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda.”

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.

Within six months from the EO issuance, the NTF is mandated to formulate a WONA-driven National Peace Framework (NPF) and start to implement it, “in coordination with relevant national government agencies, LGUs, civil society, and other stakeholders.” It must ensure “inter-agency convergence” in implementing the NPF in “conflict-affected and vulnerable communities.”

It calls for enlisting the aid of any department, bureau, office, agency, or instrumentality of government, including LGUs, government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and state universities and colleges (SUCs), in accordance with their respective mandates.

In short, it calls for a whole-of-government orchestration.

To fulfill its mandate, the NTF shall organize “adhoc inter-agency and multisectoral clusters, councils, committees, and groups in the national, regional and local levels whenever necessary.” It shall also develop and foster “strategic communication, advocacy, and peace-constituency plans in case of a ceasefire” plus capacity-building measures “to enable local chief executives [governors and mayors] and local peace bodies to engage and facilitate local peace engagements or negotiations/interventions.”

Specifically, EO 70 mandates the NTF to recommend to the OPAPP “projects and conflict-affected areas” where the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program—a multi-billion counterinsurgency project, initiated under the preceding Aquino III administration, which has engendered corruption in the OPAPP—may be implemented.

A National Secretariat was to be set up to provide technical and administrative support to the NTF and ensure all policies, directives, plans and programs formulated by the NTF are faithfully carried out.

The National Peace Framework shall contain “principles, policies, plans, and programs (4Ps)” that will bring “inclusive and sustainable peace, and address the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions as well as other armed conflicts and threats in identified areas.” It shall be consistent with constitutional integrity [in accord with the Constitution] and national sovereignty,” the EO stresses, and “responsive to local needs and sensitive to realities on the ground.”

Further, it shall include a “mechanism for localized peace engagements or negotiations and interventions that is nationally orchestrated, directed and supervised, while being locally implemented.”

The NTF-NPF concept is essentially derived from the 2009 US Counterinsurgency Guide, which was applied in the US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq but failed. The AFP initially adopted it in the Aquino III regime’s Oplan Bayanihan (which the Duterte regime cursorily pursues through its Oplan Kapayapaan). Its “whole-of-nation approach” sought to bring together all public and private sectors to crush the revolutionary movement, first in 2013 then in 2016—and utterly failed.

Under the current regime, the AFP first set an over-ambitious, impossible timeline: to “end the insurgency” by mid-2019, which Duterte himself publicly announced. The fascist machinery—with almost 70 retired AFP and PNP generals/officers holding top positions in the government—is now set to push the AFP’s magnum opus, aimed to end the insurgency by 2022.

This appears to be a dream-come-true for the militarists/fascists. They can lord over the various inter-agency clusters and other formations lined up in EO 70. Indeed, they can weaponize all government functions and services, including judicial and political processes, to attack the revolutionary movement and all those they perceive as threats and “enemies of the state.”

And while doing that, the AFP wants the public to believe that the entire nation is up against “communist insurgency” and that the AFP—with its egregious record of human rights violations through a succession of governments, including the incumbent—enjoys the whole-hearted support of the people.

But what EO 70 truly shows is that—with President Duterte ever comformable with and protective of them—the state security forces can obligate all civilian agencies of the state, all local government units, non-government organizations and all other stakeholders such as business, church, schools and various professions to take part in this grand plot.

All told, the AFP has not learned its lessons throughout the years. Timelines for “ending the insurgency” have come and gone but the revolutionary resistance of the people has remained, outlasting each and every reactionary regime. The Duterte regime is no exception.

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