AFP chief excludes LP from ‘Red October’ plot to oust Duterte

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday, October 2, excluded the Liberal Party (LP) and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV from any involvement in the presumed “Red October” — a plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

The AFP chief clarified that it is only the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), along with its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) that plans on overthrowing of the leader from his seat of power. However, he warned that they might try to involve legitimate political groups and personalities without their knowledge through cutouts and “linkages.”

LP President Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan denied his political party’s involvement in the said “Red October” plot. He even assured the public that they would investigate anyone who might be involved in the said ouster and would expel them if proven guilty.

“We will not support any unconstitutional approach or unconstitutional move. In fact, if you have information on any member of the LP, would you tell us? We will expel (him or her) because that is in violation of our Constitution,” Pangilinan said as reported by The Philippine Star.

Trillanes also refuted all claims that Magdalo, the group that he formed during the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, is associated with the impending plot to remove Duterte from the presidency.

“Let me assure you, if there (is) recruitment (in the military), it’s not coming from Magdalo,” Trillanes told Galvez during the Senate hearing on the proposed  P183-billion budget of the Department of National Defense (DND).

This was in response to the accusations thrown by Malacañang that there exists a “collusion” among communists and certain LP members and that Trillanes himself has called for the ouster. Such inconsistency prompted Galvez to request for an executive session with senators on the matter.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., however, did not discount the possibility that a coordinated plan to overthrow the president exists within the mentioned groups who staunchly opposed the president.

“No one will admit (collusion). But there is (intelligence) information in this regard and as far as we are concerned, we are considering all these information as valid and we are ready to face them,” Roque said.

The presidential spokesman also doubted LP and Magdalo’s denial of involvement noting that the groups would have thought of ways to aid in the said plot.

“It could be true that there is no formal memorandum of agreement between the (LP) itself and the CPP-NPA. It does not prevent leading personalities with the (LP) from having such collusion,” Roque said.

“(Trillanes) has repeatedly called for the ouster of the President, so there’s no inconsistency. He has told, he has actually verbalized time and again (that Duterte) should step down,” he added.

Red October plot

Red October, as perceived by Galvez, is an “elaborate” and “pervasive” attack that stems from the agitation of students, labor groups and indigenous peoples on issues like high prices and human rights violations.

Galvez said that the collective agitation, accompanied by the opening of a “people’s court” to try Duterte for his alleged crimes, and the heightened NPA rural attacks would ultimately lead to a political and economic turmoil.

“This is the sinister plot of the CPP-NPA,” Galvez said as he likened Red October to the destabilization attempt of 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing and the mutiny during former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.

Galvez added that communist rebels, directed by CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison from the Netherlands, would overthrow the government and take over. As agitation started on the 46th anniversary of Marcos’ martial law declaration on September 21, the AFP chief expected it to peak on the CPP’s 50th anniversary.

Lower house and NBI probes Red October

Seven leftist party-list representatives from the Makabayan bloc urged the House of Representatives to investigate Red October. The lawmakers said that the false intel shared by other military officers gave clearance to those who were supposedly involved.

“These put the military’s allegations in question. It is imperative that they investigate the so-called Red October plot or similar ones alleged by the AFP as such may be a prelude to massive crackdown against the opposition and may result in human rights violations on a massive scale,” they said.

An anonymous source from the same Philippine Star report, that a witness surfaced before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and shared “significant details” on the Red October plot. The source also hinted that the witness “bolstered AFP’s information.”

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra refused to confirm this, saying he has not yet received any report from the NBI.

Duterte to soldiers: I will take care of you

Amid the plot to remove him from office, President Duterte promised the soldiers during the Army’s 803rd brigade in Catarman, Northern Samar that he would take care of them as long as he is Chief Executive.

“I will take care of you as long as I am in power. I will never abandon you. You will never have any worry at all. Just work,” Duterte said.  

Duterte ordered the military to go for “neutralization” which refers to the arrest, capture, death or surrender of members of armed groups fighting the government.

“We are not into crime prevention. We are going for neutralization now. There is no crime prevention because the crime is being perpetrated 24 hours a day. So you do not need to ask whether there is a warrant,” Duterte ordered.

“Once you get them, it’s neutralization. I will be criticized but I’m telling you, I am guiding you what is practical and what is true and legal. That’s legal,” the president assured. 

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