MANILA – In separate statements emailed to media today, the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the broad alliance Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) urged the Filipino public to take heed, and oppose, Duterte’s gunning for an authoritarian rule. They pointed to developments showing the Duterte administration is busy setting up the country’s return to dictatorship and Martial Law.
The latest of that sign is the so-called “Red October” ouster plot which Bayan describes as nothing but a military concoction and a big fat lie.
A similar “Red” conspiracy was used by former President Marcos in 1972 to declare Martial Law. He clamped down on the media and cracked down on the growing democratic protests by arresting and imprisoning members of various people’s organizations critical of Marcos’ rule. Now, in “classic Marcosian fashion,” the Duterte regime is setting up public opinion and the machinery for a massive crackdown on the democratic opposition, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bayan said in a statement.
But what’s going on among the Filipinos now is a growing people’s movement and opposition to an administration implementing one program after another that result in greater hardship. “What we saw during the Sept. 21 Luneta Rally was the coming together of a wide array of political forces and individuals against Duterte’s plan to impose martial law and a fascist dictatorship,” said Bayan. That, it said, is not a conspiracy.
But if the AFP will have its way, Bayan warned, “the outrageous and fantastic accusations made by no less than AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez and his deputy Gen. Antonio Parlade now subject all groups critical of the Duterte administration to police and military surveillance and action for being part of an alleged conspiracy to oust Pres. Duterte.”
The Movement Against Tyranny also condemns the said military chiefs for what they call as outlandish claims linking the legal political opposition to an armed conspiracy to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The AFP and counterparts in the national police leadership knew all along that protest organizers and the National Capital Region Police Office were in close coordination to ensure the Sept. 21 gathering was a peaceful event,” MAT said. Yet, it said, the military went on attacking the United People’s Action last Sept. 21, as “orchestrated by Duterte himself, and helped along by his social media mercenaries who even spread rumors of bomb attacks on the day of the protest.”
“Now that their lie has fallen flat, they persist with fantastical claims of a “Red October”,’ MAT said of the military chiefs.
Using government agencies, resources against the people: Martial Law in disguise
The AFP’s proposal to create an inter-agency body to supposedly address the communist menace is nothing but martial law in disguise, Bayan said. It explained that through the military’s so-called “whole of nation” approach, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) means to dovetail all government functions and agencies to a militarist approach to quell armed dissent and in the process undermine or do away with civilian supremacy.
The AFP is pursuing the formation of that national inter-agency task force via an executive order. Through it, the AFP wants to expand its targets beyond armed rebellion, the Movement Against Tyranny said.
In effect, “Galvez is sweeping away several laws and the Constitution by demanding the inclusion of “parliamentary struggle” as an anti-insurgency target,” MAT said.
While this is a continuation of a trend under the Duterte administration — he has been installing former military chiefs in civilian agencies — this proposal seeks to install military rule over a wider area and over more government agencies.
The Philippine military has also been reportedly implementing such an approach, imposing its will over civilian bureaucracies and cracking down on people’s resistance in various parts of the Philippines, based on various reports on militarization reaching Bulatlat and as reflected also by the cases of rights violations brought by Karapatan human rights alliance to the International People’s Tribunal last Sept. 18 to 19.
That is happening in Mindanao, but various groups said it is happening too in other regions. In a September 19 press conference of various groups from Southern Tagalog, for example, they recounted instances leading to their conclusion that there is a de-facto martial law in their region. In Mindoro and Batangas, they said, the military is restricting the people’s legitimate mass actions and protests against mining. They said the military is practically imposing its leadership on the local government executives, as evidenced by what the fact-finding missions have encountered. Groups from Southern Tagalog complained that their efforts to bring aid to evacuees of militarization in Mansalay in Mindoro this month had twice been blocked by the local executives including the village chief. The latter told the fact-finding mission the military demands that they first secure a permit, from the military, before they can get to the evacuees.
The same thing has been observed in Rizal and Quezon where the Duterte government wants to proceed with the Marcos-initiated dam projects. Informal checkpoints were set up demanding first that the military is notified before groups can enter villages likely to be submerged by the dam projects.
“As an ailing Duterte flails away amid growing scandals of corruption, anger over economic injustices and extra-judicial killings linked to his drug war, and massive opposition to his planned charter change, his last ace is being brought to light: Marcosian dictatorship,” MAT said.
It sounded like the military campaign’s first targets will be groups engaged in the legal democratic struggle, especially student organizations and labor groups, who, Bayan said, are historically the strongest opposition to martial law and dictatorship.
It added that the military also includes in their list of targets the political opposition, people’s organizations and social movements critical of Duterte.
Although these plots coming from President Duterte are ‘ominous’, MAT and Bayan predicted its failure, saying the people will reject it and most likely protest against it, like what they did during Marcos’ time.
Bayan called on the people to remain vigilant and steadfast in the struggle for democracy, national sovereignty, human rights and social justice. MAT, meanwhile, warns the Duterte government: “the Filipinos will not draw back from the challenge of tyranny.”