Evolution of government statements on ‘Red October’

October 8, 2018 - 4:14 PM
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez in a budget hearing of the Department of National Defense. (The STAR/Boy Santos)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines recently downplayed its own allegation on the involvement of schools in supposed plot to remove President Rodrigo Duterte.

From the outset, the military has tagged different groups in the opposition with contrasting ideologies and aims in “Red October,” the latest of the ouster plots against Duterte floated by the government.

The destabilization rumors came as early as 2016 but it was not this year that the military cited intelligence reports on the plots.

READ: The many times Duterte floated ouster plots against him

Tagged: The Liberal Party

Duterte in October 2017 claimed that the Communist Party of the Philippines was allegedly conspiring with the Liberal Party to oust him.

Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., military spokesperson, confirmed his statements, saying, “Most of them are Reds and the armed elements in Mindanao.” But Padilla does not confirm whether the political opposition is involved.

“The president has access to more information than we do. Because most of our agencies submit to the president information. And we submit to him as well what only comes from our part,” he added.

Tagged: The opposition coalition

Duterte eventually tagged specific names involved in the conspiracy as well, namely the Magdalo party-list, Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis Pangilinan and Vice President Leni Robredo.

They are collectively the leaders of newly formed coalition Tindig Pilipinas that opposes through protests some controversial policies of Duterte, such as the burial of Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery and the deadly war on drugs.

READ: Communist and Liberal parties have different ideologies. So are they joining forces?

The personalities and groups tagged all denied involvement. “There is no need to cut ties with communists because the political opposition has no ties with them in the first place,” Rep. Gary Alejano of the Magdalo said. His party-list is composed of former rebel soldiers, among whom fought communists.

The walk back

By the first week of October, the AFP took back its statements on LP and Trillanes being part of the conspiracy. Ge. Carlito Galvez, the military chief of staff, said there are no existing alliances whatsoever between the CPP and the leading political opposition.

READ: For nth time: Duterte claims opposition, Liberal Party, communists plotting to oust him

“This is a sinister plot of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army. They would like to have (a) coalition with the opposition. That’s why our intention is to protect the legitimate opposition,” he said.

Trillanes welcomed Galvez’s words and added that the opposition would never side with the CPP because the latter has different plans for the nation.

Galvez’s statements contrasted with that of Parlade’s, who consistently tagged the opposition in the ouster plot.

The date: September

The Palace also claimed that the ouster plot would materialize on September 21, the day the country remembers dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law.

However, nothing close to the incident occurred.

The date: October

This led the AFP to theorize that the destabilization will happen in October, which they considered was the month of international celebration of communism.

“There will still be a plan this coming October. They call it Red October. That is the month of international celebrations for communism, Marxism and IP (indigenous peoples),” said Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, who is the deputy chief of military operations.

READ: The historical and cultural origins of ‘Red October’

Photo taken in July 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People’s Army in formation near their camp in the Sierra Madre mountain range. (AFP/Released)

Parlade further revealed that CPP has nine supposed plans to remove Duterte from office. He said that the group intended to expose the “alleged extrajudicial killings of the administration (and) alleged killings of (indigenous peoples) in Mindanao.”

“There are groups near Metro Manila, Bulacan, and Rizal (are) getting ready in case they want to pursue this sabotage of rallies, just like the Plaza Miranda bombing. Then (they will) blame the president for doing such,” he said.

Parlade previously mentioned that an ouster plot has been in the works since September 2017 but was uncovered by the military in July 2018, when they seized laptops from a counter-insurgency operation in Northern Mindanao.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez visiting the Moro Islamic Liberation Font in Maguindanao. (The STAR/Kris John Rosales)

“From there, doon na namin nabuo na hindi lang pala dito sa Manila ang kanilang plano. Buong Pilipinas ang kanilang plano,” he added.

The brigadier general alleged that the “Red October” would happen around October 11 to 17 of 2018.

“Iyung koda nila na na-decode are nationwide coordinated…TO or tactical offensive this October 11-17, 2018. Matagal ng plano (ito) pero bigo (sila) dahil sa aggressive operation of the AFP and PNP.”

Tagged: Universities in Metro Manila

AFP then shortly released a list of educational institutions that they suspected were part of “Red October.” They accused the schools of having film viewing activities where Duterte is being compared to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. According to them, the CPP is conducting recruitments through the films.

Several school officials, filmmakers and film industry workers immediately decried the military’s allegations.

The military later on admitted that the list of schools involved in the conspiracy was still undergoing “validation.”

“The list of Metro Manila schools that have been possibly used as venues for arousing, organizing, and mobilizing of students by the NPA (New People’s Army) has been released. Some of the schools included in the list as such, however, are subject of continuing validation,” they said.

The Commission on Human Rights condemned AFP’s accusations and said that it “puts the safety and security of the community at risk.”