By LUIS MIGUEL B. ARUCAN
CALOOCAN CITY College was one of the 18 schools that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed to be hotbeds for communist recruitment for the rumored ‘Red October’ ouster plot.
The military cannot fulfill its role without the knowledge and intelligence-gathering skills of experts. When the military claims something, one can rest assured that it is true. But Caloocan City College does not exist
The AFP later admitted in a statement that their list was “subject to continuing validation.” They seem to want to follow in the administration’s footsteps and throw around allegations before or without presenting evidence. In retrospect, the military’s plans and actions seem more red-faced than Red October.
Step one was to make up a conspiracy out of nothing. Upon returning from his trip from Jordan and Israel, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that a foreign government, which he did not name, provided him with a document about the ouster plot.
Step two was to bare the list of 18 schools to make it look like the plan is based on something and is going somewhere. At least this is what it seems like after the military’s chain of inexplicable decisions. Antonio Parlade Jr., assistant deputy chief of staff for operations of the AFP, said the schools “notorious for school activism” were recruiting students through screenings of martial law films.
Step three is the best one: give your fabricated conspiracy the most conspiracy-sounding name to mortify the populace. What communist would not want to join Red October when it cleverly references history? Clever!
Early in October, Sen. Panfilo Lacson pointed out another thing questionable about the military’s decision: intel reports are information that can be used by military operatives to accomplish their objectives. If there truly was an ouster plot, the names of targets would be valuable information and the AFP would not want the communists to know that they have been identified as targets. In the words of Lacson, “Announcing the targets of intelligence efforts effectively renders the mission accomplishment extremely difficult if not impossible.”
This arguably implies that the military was not sincerely trying to protect the public or that there was no ouster plot to stop in the first place. It is unacceptable for the military not to disclose their sources when they so readily and carelessly disclosed a list of 18—or rather, 17—respected schools.
It is consoling that the tagged schools and even others uninvolved showed that they are fed up with the military and the administration’s baseless and dangerous claims. On the other hand, it is worrying and borderline sad that officials who live in the 21st century still think like this. The year is 2018 but it feels like we have not moved on from the irresponsible practices of the French Revolution in 1789. F