Human rights abuses to worsen, as generals jostle for power
Human rights abuses will intensify as the military generals jostle for power under the Marcos-Duterte tandem. These conflicts began in mid-2022 and erupted in the early days of 2023. This strife among the ranks of the military reflect the deep contradictions among the allied political dynasties and factions within the ruling Marcos regime.
In the bid to stop the jostling for corruption and stymie the growing discontent that could lead to destabilization, Ferdinand Marcos Jr reshuffled key people in the defense, military and police. He kicked out officials he himself had appointed and brought back the worst generals who served during the Duterte regime.
The shake-up began with the re-appointment of Gen. Andres Centino as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the position Marcos awarded to Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, known as an ally of First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and then Executive Sec. Vic Rodriguez. To protest Bacarro’s unceremonious removal, former Gen. Jose Faustino resigned as officer-in-charge of the Department of National Defense (DND). Five other senior DND officials resigned after him. He was replaced by Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr, former presidential adviser on the peace process and chief of the Duterte regime’s utterly failed and corrupt response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The last to be removed from office was Prof. Clarita Carlos, who was previously criticized by the generals after she called for the NTF-Elcac budget’s reduction. She was replaced by the ultra-militarist Gen. Eduardo Año as National Security Adviser (NSA).
While generals and colonels jostled for juicy positions in the AFP, the entire force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was placed under “full alert.” According to the bourgeois media, a memo about a coup and destabilization was circulated. At the same time, the PNP was undergoing a shake down with more than 900 police generals and colonels being asked to submit their courtesy resignations.
In the face of the so-called “game of the generals,” progressive and democratic organizations have expressed concern that human rights abuses and war crimes will intensify. Año, Galvez and Centino are known for the most brutal and dirty tactics in the war against the people. The list of their violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws is long and bloody. They are remembered, along with the former adviser of the NSA, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, as the biggest obstacles to the peace talks.
The military’s grip on the civil bureaucracy has tightened with the appointment of Año, Galvez and Centino. In line with the US “anti-terrorism” and anticommunist counterinsurgency doctrine, the military will continue to define and dictate state policies and place civilian agencies under its control as what is being done through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
With the return of former president Duterte’s generals, expect the brutal counterinsurgency tactics to continue. They will obstruct peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. In Año, Galvez and Centino’s book, there is only the military solution. The only peace they know is the “peace of the dead.”
In the face of this, the Party has instructed all its committees, as well as NPA units to take advantage of the strife, confusion and maneuvers within the AFP and PNP. They must launch propaganda and education within the military and police, especially among the lowest ranks to persuade them to abandon the rotten organization and cooperate with the revolutionary forces.
It said these strife will ultimately impinge on counterinsurgency operations, especially when there are coup and counter-coup maneuvers by troops. The NPA must take the initiative and intensify military and political work throughout the country and reap big gains in the face of the enemy’s chaos.