DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 27 Sept) – The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army and groups in Mindanao that are identified with it are planning to carry out the so-called “Red October” ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte, the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command on Wednesday said.
But a human rights group dismissed such statement as “fake stories” to earn public support for the military.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Eastmincom commander Lt Gen Benjamin Madrigal said the groups involved in the alleged plot would come mostly from Davao and Caraga Regions.
He said the first mobilization was supposed to happen on September 21, 2018 during the commemoration of the 1972 martial law declaration of the late dictator President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and the second during the Peasant Week celebration slated on the 3rd week of October.
“All these efforts, to mobilize communities and groups, particularly the Indigenous Peoples in eastern Mindanao, as a prelude to creating the so-called ‘favorable’ situation to oust President Duterte is [sic] bound to fail,” he said.
Madrigal said the CPP-NPA’s “objective ever since is to overthrow the democratic government and replace it with an authoritarian socialist form, and ever since, this threat has pulled down our country’s growth and development.”
He said the communists continue to instigate unrest by agitating the urban poor and rural peasant communities and taking advantage of their situation through such campaign narratives as the “Bakwit Lumad,” attack on IP schools, and “Lakbay Lumad”.
He said they expect the communists to use issues confronting the Duterte administration such as alleged extrajudicial killings, attack on Lumad communities and human rights violations in the mobilizations.
Madrigal further alleged the communist guerillas killed “six tribal leaders in eastern Mindanao who were suspected as military informants, or for allegedly being anti-communist and for protecting their tribe and domains from being infiltrated by communist ideology.”
He said efforts to overthrow will not succeed as the NPA in Eastern Mindanao is already losing its leaders, elements, supporters, and firearms through the “relentless Focused Military Operations and Community Support Programs.”
He said Lumad and marginalized communities “are now feeling the sincerity, generosity, and compassion of the government with the socio-cultural and economic interventions” of the local governments and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
Madrigal sad 659 NPA rebels, 910 members of the Milisyang Bayan, and 285 members of the Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad have surrendered to the military since January 1 this year while 7,294 members of “Underground Mass Organizations” have withdrawn their support for the NPA.
He said 256 Lumads who are former members of the NPA would be enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Localized Integration Program.
But Karapatan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Jay Apiag said the military is “totally in hysteria” and “desperately manufacturing fake stories to condition the minds (of the people) and gather support from the general public.”
Apiag said the Armed Forces of the Philippines has mastered the scheme of “terrorist-tagging and vilification of legitimate organizations while fabricating ludicrous cases and maliciously charged against progressive leaders and members to criminalize reasonable people’s demand.”
He said the accusation was not surprising since security forces have become a “factory of lies and fake stories” from “coercing members of people’s organizations to clear their names inside a military detachment to parading them as NPA surrenderers.”
He said government forces “are also good in exhibiting their skill of planting guns, ammunitions and bombs to justify arrest and detention of activists and human rights defenders under the cloak of martial law while absconding their accountabilities for all the crimes they foisted against the people.”
He added nothing can stop the people’s determination to advance demands for genuine land reform, national industrialization and social justice, among others.
For its part, Suara Bangsamoro hit Madrigal for linking the mobilizations in Davao to the alleged “Red October” plot.
In a statement Thursday, the group said “mobilizations and protests are exercises of democratic rights of the people guaranteed by the Constitution. Because of the negligence of the Duterte government to address intense militarization, human rights violations, joblessness, soaring prices of goods and worsening poverty, the people of Mindanao are taking [to] the streets to protest.”
“Instead of prioritizing the welfare of the impoverished, the government would rather focus its resources on throwing the underserved such as the Lumad, in the line of fire,” it said.
“General Madrigal, have you forgotten that just two years ago, the Lumad organizations that you are branding as CPP front groups are the same organizations that President Duterte has entertained in Malacañang as his special guests? In the same year, the Lakbayan of the Mindanaoans rallied in Manila in support of president’s call for independent foreign policy,” it added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)