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Commentary

‘Red October’ plot’s real target

/ 05:06 AM October 07, 2018

The much ballyhooed “Red October” ouster plot recently revealed by the military top brass is sounding more incredible by the day.

From a grand conspiracy involving groups critical of the Duterte regime — from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Liberal Party and Magdalo group, to broad coalitions like the Movement Against Tyranny, Coalition for Justice, and Tindig Pilipinas — the Armed Forces of the Philippines has now expanded the plot to include 18 colleges and universities in Metro Manila whose students are supposedly being brainwashed by communists through films about martial law.

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Prior to the revelation of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. and his deputy chief of operations, Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., President Duterte himself accused the CPP, Liberal Party and Magdalo of planning to assassinate him in September.

When that didn’t happen, the AFP changed the story line, saying New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were going to infiltrate the Sept. 21 antimartial law rally in Luneta to sow terror and instigate Mr. Duterte’s forcible removal from power.

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And when that didn’t happen, the AFP changed the story again, this time calling the “Red October” plot a “rolling plan” that can happen anytime until December, coinciding with the CPP’s 50th anniversary.

Since then, anything that can be vaguely linked to the alleged plot—an arms cache raid by the National Bureau of Investigation in Rizal province, an arrest of a supposed top-ranking rebel in faraway southern Mindanao, the discovery of some smuggled firearms—is given a spin by the AFP to bolster its story, leaving other state security forces scratching their heads.

The plot is so pliable because, after all, there really is no Red October plot. In the first place, what right-minded leftist would name such a subversive plot that way, unless he/she wants to be discovered right away? “Oplan Gumamela” would have been much more credible.

No proof or evidence was ever presented of the conspiracy, save for the usual “intelligence reports” and “computer files” that were all confidential and never shown to the public.

The accusers could not cite any document, forum, gathering or meeting where the said groups actually conspired to oust Mr. Duterte. Pressed to give details, military officials fell back to the standard line that the communists were recruiting from the ranks of the protesters and were agitating people to topple the government.

Not even the NBI or the Philippine National Police could confirm the AFP’s outlandish and ever-expanding story line.

Which brings us to the logical conclusion that Red October is actually a military psywar operation; an attack by Mr. Duterte and his generals on the people’s legal democratic movement using the age-old trick of Red-tagging.

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By raising the communist bogey, they aim to vilify Mr. Duterte’s critics, sow intrigue and division among the broad democratic opposition, and condition the public mind into accepting violent and politically repressive measures like a crackdown on democratic and progressive movements, or outright military rule.

The Red scare is also meant to consolidate the rightist elements in the opposition to the point of being party to a McCarthyist witch hunt.

To top it all off, the AFP is pushing for an “interagency body” to “defeat the communist insurgency once and for all.” This is a dangerous ploy to dovetail all government functions and agencies to the AFP-led anti-insurgency campaign, in the process undermining or doing away with the principle of civilian supremacy.

The campaign’s target will be groups engaged in the legal democratic struggle, especially student organizations and labor groups, that are historically the strongest opposers to martial law and dictatorship. They are also targeting “lumad” communities fighting the encroachment of mining and plantation companies into their lands, as well as urban poor groups, the political opposition and people’s organizations and social movements critical of Mr. Duterte.

Red October aims to usher in martial law without a formal declaration.

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Teddy Casiño served as Bayan Muna representative in 2004 to 2013 and is now back in the parliament of the streets.

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TAGS: AFP, Antonio Parlade Jr., Carlito Galvez Jr., Coalition for Justice, CPP, Duterte ouster plot, Inquirer Commentary, Liberal Party, Magdalo Group, Movement Against Tyranny, NPA, Red October, Rodrigo Duterte, Teddy Casiño, Tindig Pilipinas
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