The Duterte regime is about to fall down not because of the ‘Red October’ tale sloppily hatched by the Armed Forces, but because of the worsening economic and political crisis in the Philippines and the collective unity of the Filipino people.
Duterte’s economic managers, who try to troubleshoot the crisis by imposing exorbitant taxes (TRAIN 1 & 2), fail to realize that economic problems are rooted in corruption in the bureaucracy, land monopoly, and the US constant pestering of our economic, political, and social affairs.
Because the government is not successful in easing the economic burden of Filipinos, it resorted to concocting the ridiculous ‘Red October ouster plot’. This military’s conspiracy theory may result in a tighter clampdown of legitimate and legal organizations championing their democratic rights. ‘Red October’ will give armed state forces a stronger license to surveil, harass, arrest, and liquidate activists and will set the tone for martial law nationwide.
When President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, then acting Departmenr of Interior and Local Government Secretary Catalino Cuy said that martial law “does not mean that the military now supersedes civilian authority”.
A memorandum released by the DILG at that time stated that “the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao covers only persons charged with rebellion or invasion”. Cuy further said: “A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Philippine Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies”.
As Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution), indeed the President has convincingly shown that he has the peoples’ mandate to ensure that “Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military” expressly stipulated in Article II Section 3 of the Charter.
This principle of supremacy of civilian authority over the military is inherent in every democratic state like the Philippines where “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them (Article II Section 1)”.
This safeguard against any military takeover and the rise of military dictatorship has to be preserved and upheld at all times.
However, the hardships and sufferings experienced by the Moro people in Marawi City, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and the Lumad serve as proof of the brunt of martial law. Thousands of displaced people in Mindanao are crying out to stop martial rule in Mindanao.
Now, Duterte administration is gearing towards the declaration of martial law nationwide. It is apparent that the government is using “Red October” as pretext. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) have been restless in spreading baseless, inconsistent, and even ludicrous stories, like the discovery of high powered arms in Rizal province and the ten universities involved in the ouster plot.
A military rule as a solution to economic crisis is not the solution at all because the people will continue to suffer not only due to hunger but from political persecution. It is a kind of crucifixion of the Filipino people like the crucifixion of Jesus in his time where people fought for emancipation from hunger, sickness, and colonial rule.
Leaders from different churches have already condemned the sufferings of the Filipino people under Marcos’ dictatorship. The task now of the Philippine churches is to ready their ranks and actualize their statements of opposing martial law through concrete action.
A statement issued by Episcopalian Bishop Rex RB Reyes, Jr., D.D Convenor, Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (Ecuvoice) released September 25, 2018, expressed the will of the people. It states, “We want peace for the Philippines. The way to move in this direction is to resume GRP-NDFP peace talks intended to address the roots of the armed conflict. The negotiating parties had hammered out meaningful agreements, ready for signature, on much needed Socio-Economic Reforms. These very peace spoilers in the AFP and the security cluster are the ones standing in the way of democracy and peacebuilding.”
The Duterte has an option over military rule; it is a politically negotiated settlement through the peace negotiations between his government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. If President Duterte will not heed to this call, Filipinos have not forgotten about People Power. The people did it during Ferdinand Marcos; they can do it in the present.