Is ‘White December’ next as military-concocted Red October fizzles out? Rights defenders ask

(Photo by Mon Ramirez/Arkibong Bayan)

“What we are sure of, however, is how this alleged destabilization plot remains a dangerous maneuver to legitimize the political persecution and attacks against critics of this administration.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Human rights workers are on the edge of their seats as they await in both disbelief and outrage on how government authorities are trying to salvage their failed attempt to spread red scare through the purported “Red October” plot.

Last week, authorities said the “Red October” plot has already fizzled out and that it will now be moved to December.

“We wonder what other colors they will use to describe the next succeeding months — Orange November, White December, Maroon January? They would have exhausted all colors in a box of crayons and still this alleged plot will remain so long as the government needs a diversion, a shadow to cast on people amid the dire economic and rights situation that the country is facing,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Since last month, President Rodrigo Duterte and his security cluster have been busy spreading red scare, alleging that the underground revolutionary organization Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army are leading a so-called plot to unseat the president.

However, many activists and democracy-loving individuals and institutions were quick to point out that the purported ouster plot is nothing but a means to attack progressive forces by spreading a red scare instead of addressing concretely the problems besetting the country – the increasing prices of staple goods and services, rice supply problem, among others.

Arrests continue

While the Red October is seemingly over, as far as official pronouncements of state security forces are concerned, the arrests have continued.

In an earlier statement, Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor said even before the brouhaha of the so-called Red October, the “military and the police already had much time to practice their script-writing and story-telling stint through the filing of trumped-up charges against activists and critics.”

Clamor said the formation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) will legitimize the criminalization of dissent and is ultimately an instrument of political repression.” Under Duterte, at least 221 trumped up charges have been filed, according to Karapatan’s documentation.

This tactic is not so new as this was employed during the now-defunct Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), the agency responsible for fabricated charges against activists during Arroyo’s term, said Clamor.

He said, “truly, Duterte draws inspiration from fellow fascists whom he has shown utmost favor.”

Recently, four women activists were nabbed in Nueva Ecija. Peace consultant Adelberto Silva was also arrested along with four other companions in Laguna.

4 women activists arrested in Nueva Ecija, tagged as rebels

PNP arrests NDFP consultant and companions in Laguna

No ‘beacon of rights’

In a statement, Palabay reminded the Duterte administration that instead of “mindless gloating,” it should “answer the challenges regarding its compliance to international human rights instruments.”

Recently, Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo was over the moon on the “election” of the Philippine government to the 18-member rights body of the United Nations, claiming that it is proof that the country is a “beacon of rights.”

“More apt, however, is that it is a harbinger of gross human rights violations. Who even believes Panelo when the Duterte government has openly expressed its contempt for human rights? Has he chosen to conveniently forget the pronouncements of President ordering the execution of such rights violations? Be that as it may, the reality on the ground reveals the real character of this government,” said Palabay.

Karapatan insisted that “instead of Panelo’s mindless gloating, the Duterte administration should focus on addressing the problems of many Filipinos.

“We challenge the Duterte government to subject itself fully to the scrutiny and process of the International Criminal Court. We challenge Duterte to stop hindering the independent investigation of the United Nations human rights mechanisms. We challenge the government to prove that there was due process in the conduct of its drug war and counterinsurgency program. We challenge them to withdraw and repeal all legislative measures and agenda that infringe on the people’s basic rights and fundamental freedoms,” Palabay added.

No plot

Nowadays, the security cluster is claiming that the plot to unseat Duterte, led by underground revolutionary forces, will now take place in December.

But Palabay noted that the military is seemingly confused with its own pronouncement regarding the real score behind the strength of the armed revolutionary movement in the Philippines. Palabay said that while on one hand, the military is claiming that the NPA has dwindled down to oblivion, it is, on the other hand, saying that it can pull off such a grandiose plan.

Palabay said, “is the NPA gaining strength to be able to pull this plot? Or are they losing numbers? Is the Liberal Party and the Magdalo involved? Or are they not? Clearly, someone is having a hard time tying loose ends of their absurd conspiracy theories, and is in effect making a total mess of themselves. What we are sure of, however, is how this alleged destabilization plot remains a dangerous maneuver to legitimize the political persecution and attacks against critics of this administration.” ()

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