For the past weeks, the Duterte administration has been weaving a rather absurd narrative of unholy alliances between and among various political parties purportedly plotting to unseat him. The plot thickens day by day. The disinformation they are throwing, red and bomb scares included, all lead to one thing: this is not a drill.
Political groups and parties such as the Left, and Tindig Pilipinas were just among those the military claimed that banded together in a bid to oust Duterte. This will rather be an odd fusion of bedfellows if military intelligence reports are to be taken seriously. Each of the parties have spoken and denied that there is an alliance between them and that there is such a plot.
Still, the military is adamant about this spectacle. No less than former president now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, too, has been urging the public to believe the fantastic ouster plot, having survived several ouster moves herself during her nine-year-rule.
And so, one might ask, who is really plotting what against who?
There is clearly more to the ouster plot than meets the eye. The so-called “Red October” is assailed by progressives group as a “psy-war” move through the military’s rather old “red scare” tactic to divide and undermine the gains of the strong alliance of various political and religious groups as they seek grievances and criticize government policies as part of their democratic rights as evident in the May 1 Labor Day protest, the People’s State of the Nation Address rally, and the recently-concluded Sept. 21 commemoration of the martial law declaration.
Worse, the spreading of the red scare, much like what former dictator Ferdinand Marcos before the proclamation of martial law in 1972, conditions and prepares the public for an open dictatorial rule in the country.
At the heart of the “Red October” plot that the military is trying to sell is justifying the attacks against those who dare to criticize government policies that are deemed anti-people by rubbing off the red scare that they have long been using against organized ranks of progressive organizations, citing intelligence reports from supposed laptops they allegedly recovered from a raid.
The red-baiting under the guise of the “Red October” is so outlandish that even legitimate calls for reforms and grievances are now ideologically-charged as the government tries to link the struggles of NutriAsia workers, homeless members of Kadamay, and jeepney drivers to purported ‘destabilization efforts.’
The plot is all too familiar. After all, the use of redbaiting as part of the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program was at its peak under the Arroyo administration, which resulted to grave human rights violations. It was also used to lump together all those opposed to and critical of the current administration. Today, the ranking Arroyo generals that perpetuated such a bloody war against its own people occupy favoured positions under the present Duterte administration.
As such, the fantastic plot is not really new. But the intensified red-baiting of progressive groups may signal graver human rights violations as those vocal against anti-people policies have become legitimate military targets.