Negros Oriental’s No. 2 intelligence officer called for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after defecting to the New People’s Army, saying “people very, very close to Malacañang” and even “inside the Palace” are running big time-illegal gambling and smuggling operations, including large-scale sugar smuggling in Negros.
BY JAIME ESPINA
BACOLOD CITY – Citing what he described as “rampant corruption” and “injustice,” a veteran police intelligence officer who defected to the New People’s Army (NPA) said he agreed with calls by several quarters for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“GMA (Arroyo) should be ousted,” Sr. Police Officer 2 Joel Geollegue, said. “Dapat na talagang palitan ang gobyernong ito.” (This government must really be replaced.)
Geollegue, the deputy provincial officer of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Negros Oriental, formally declared his defection Sunday June 5, in an NPA camp in the southern Negros hinterlands.
The police officer brought with him four high-powered firearms, including an Ingram machine pistol, although he did not say whether these were government-issued. Although he said he expected a “smear campaign” against him once news of his defection broke, Geollegue said he was more worried about the effects such a campaign would have on his family.
Nevertheless, he said he was confident they would weather the storm “because I believe I have made them understand the justness of my cause.” His wife shared the same opinion. “We are ready to answer all their questions and anything they throw against him.”
Geollegue said he had consulted his superiors and colleagues in the CIDG on his defection and, “although most of them tried to persuade me not to do it, they all said they respected my decision and supported me.”
He sought out the NPA guerrillas some two months ago and had been in the protection of an NPA platoon since then. Following his declaration, an NPA officer read a statement welcoming Geollegue, who now goes by the nom de guerre “Ka Reymar,” into rebel ranks and saying the defection was proof of the justness of their cause.
Ex-death squad member
Geollegue’s formal announcement of defection came a day before his 49th birthday and effectively capped a 28-year career that began when he enlisted as an Army private in 1977 battling Muslim secessionists and included a stint as a member of the Military Intelligence and Security Unit (MISU) or what he described as the “death squad” of the defunct Philippine Constabulary’s Davao Metropolitan District Command.
The MISU, which Geollegue said caused him the “greatest regret” of his career, was tasked to “go after high profile targets, whether dissidents, criminals and even government officials and scalawag servicemen who had become too big a problem for government.”
However, he acknowledged the unit was responsible for many human rights violations and the deaths of “many innocents” wrongly accused of links to the rebel movement. He said Davao’s notoriety as a hunting ground of NPA assassination squads or Sparrow units was partly the handiwork of the MISU.
He added that among their targets then were media practitioners accused of “helping spread anti-government propaganda.” However, he declined to discuss specific cases.
But he warned that the recent wave of killings of activists, dissenters and journalists showed an “emerging pattern” similar to his MISU days and said this was part of government’s “grand design” to silence critics and “the oppressed.”
He also predicted a “90 percent possibility” of a coup launched by a “big group” of disgruntled troops composed mostly of mid-level officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel but also including “many former key players” in past coup attempts.
However, while not calling on them to call off their plans, Geollegue said, “I invite them to join me” in defecting to the rebels because “this is our cause, the cause of the people.”
Trumped up charges