MANILA, Philippines – It's been in place for over a year now, which means that – if the military is to be believed – communist guerrillas have been plotting to oust President Rodrigo Duterte even as they were talking peace with his government.
On Monday, September 24, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has hatched "Oplan Talsik" to remove Duterte from office. Talsik means remove.
“Gusto nilang patalsikin [si Pangulo]. Actually, it’s an Oplan Talsik against existing administration para sila naman ang magkakaroon ng power dito sa ating society sa Pilipinas,” Major General Isidro Purisima, AFP operations chief, said in an ambush interview at Camp Aguinaldo. (They want to oust the President. Actually, it's an Oplan Talsik against the existing administration so that they can grab power here in the Philippines.)
The plot has been there for more than a year now, Purisima added. This includes rebels' attempts to influence other countries to prevent their residents from investing in the Philippines, according to Purisima.
Only last June, President Duterte dropped hints that the stalled peace talks between his administration and the CPP-led National Democratic Front (NDF) would resume. The talks bogged down in November 2017, or 10 months ago.
The communist movement backed Duterte's presidential bid in 2016, prompting him to appoint Leftist leaders to his Cabinet.
Things soured between both sides, however, when CPP-influenced organizations started protesting against Duterte.
What's new? AFP spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo also echoed Purisima's line, saying the military is closely watching this "broad coalition" led by the CPP to destablize the government.
Both officers did not identify who else are in the supposed coalition and did not offer new information on communist infiltration except for what the military has been saying for decades: that rebels, for example, infiltrate labor unions to take advantage of workers' economic grievances.
Joma calls it propaganda: CPP founder and NDF chief political consultant Jose Maria "Joma" Sison scoffed at the military's claim, saying it's meant to build the basis for declaring martial law nationwide.
Sison pointed out that Duterte and the military have repeatedly accused them of mounting a conspiracy, even linking them to the opposition political group the Liberal Party. The same conspiracy claims, in fact, were publicized by Duterte in 2017.
“Duterte and the military keep on insisting that there is such a conspiracy, a September plot to kill Duterte and a Red October plan to oust him,” Sison said in a Facebook post on Monday. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.