‘The Hunt for Red October’
Now I realize that my friends in the military intelligence community are avid and enthusiastic readers of fiction novels. The code name for an alleged plot to oust the President and Commander in Chief is straight out from one of the most famous and popular fiction stories of our time by the renowned author Tom Clancy.
“The Hunt for Red October” is not about some plot to oust anyone from power or to overthrow an existing government. It is the story of a Soviet submarine captain who plans to defect from his country, taking along a ballistic missile submarine, the Red October. With its cutting-edge silent propulsion system, the submarine is capable of approaching close to the American coastline and launching nuclear missiles with little or no warning.
While the novel takes us through several nerve-wracking moments, in the end the renegade naval officer succeeds in bringing Red October safely to Norfolk, Virginia, where he and his crew are given asylum in the United States. The book, written in the short span of four months, was published on Oct. 1, 1984. It became highly popular in the military organization, particularly after President Ronald Reagan endorsed it as “the perfect yarn.”
Last week, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez and his deputy for operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, discussed in various fora the security threat posed by “Red October.” With Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Jose Maria Sison allegedly orchestrating the plot, the party is said to be in alliance with certain Liberal Party opposition members and Magdalo Party stalwarts.
Let me offer a few thoughts.
First of all, there is nothing new or sinister about the CPP wanting to oust the President and overthrow his administration. For many years now, the armed wing of the CPP, known as the New People’s Army (NPA), has been waging war against every government that has ruled our land. As I mentioned in an earlier column, the NPA problem is today the world’s longest-running insurgency.
For some reason, in spite of its superior strength in men and equipment, the AFP has not been able to successfully neutralize this group. Perhaps we should consider changing our tactics and revert back to the aggressive and highly effective small unit operations conducted during the time of Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay in defeating the Hukbalahap. We have created brigades and divisions, adding more generals to the AFP payroll, but the situation has not improved appreciably.
As for the Magdalo and the Liberal Party, these are opposition groups vital for any democracy and committed to change by constitutional methods.
If there is such a plot as Red October, why announce it in advance? Why not first arrest the people who are the supposed leaders and then declare that the plot has been nipped in the bud, so to speak, and present the suspects and the evidence? Any plot to overthrow the government is a serious matter and should not be treated lightly.
But there are telltale signs that perhaps the plot is a work of fiction. For one thing, military units are not on heightened alert, a usual measure. Entry into military camps is not restricted; golf at Camp Aguinaldo remains at normal levels. The National Capital Region would be a prime target for any takeover attempt even if the President were in Davao City.
Even more surprising than the absence of strict security measures is the recent foreign trip by some of the most important members of the Cabinet: Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Budget Secretary Ben Diokno, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat, and a host of lesser officials and assistants. The trip was billed as an investment mission, but, by coincidence, the latest fast-food outlet of Jollibee in London appeared to be very much in their line of sight.
There is absolutely no sense of concern or anxiety over the possible ouster of government, and such a huge delegation only strengthens the impression that something is fishy about Red October. We are facing a serious problem of high inflation, and yet, the economic managers are seen to be having a great time in Europe.
Under these circumstances, it is difficult not to suspect that Red October serves as a convenient distraction from the soaring costs of basic commodities and a declining peso. And it is the poor and lower classes of society that suffer the most.
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Attention Parañaque City officials.
A senior citizen, Manny Ligaya, writes that Goldilocks in Sucat-Parañaque branch refuses to give senior citizens discounts for their products. Please remember we have elections coming up soon and senior citizens have long memories especially when it comes to food.
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