Brains of Oplan Bayanihan named new AFP chief

Jan. 17, 2013

For human rights lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, Bautista’s appointment “fits in perfectly like a velvet glove on an iron fist.  It jibes with the overall anti-people design that has resulted in continuing and disturbing human rights violations.”

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Malacañang has announced on Tuesday the appointment of Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista as the new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, replacing the outgoing General Jessie Dellosa who will retire on Thursday, January 17.

In a statement read before the media, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte officially announced Bautista’s appointment that will take effect on January 20.

“We thank outgoing AFP Chief of Staff Dellosa for having served the country and our uniformed personnel with exemplary dedication and commitment,” Valte added in the statement.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in a text message to that she already congratulated General Bautista upon hearing the news of the appointment.

Duterte-Carpio asked for support to the new AFP chief and wished that he may become a leader by example for all AFP personnel to follow.

Meanwhile, Valte added that the administration is looking forward “to the stint of the incoming AFP Chief of Staff in continuing the reforms set in motion by the President and implemented by his predecessors in advancing the interests of our soldiers and the enhancement of the defense capabilities of our country.”

Bautista is the fourth AFP chief appointed by President Noynoy Aquino after Generals Ricardo David Jr., Eduardo Oban and Dellosa.  His appointment takes effect on January 20.

But while Malacañang and other government officials are happy with this development, human rights defenders say otherwise.

For human rights lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, Bautista’s appointment “fits in perfectly like a velvet glove on an iron fist.  It jibes with the overall anti-people design that has resulted in continuing and disturbing human rights violations.”

Olalia said that the incoming AFP chief is “reputedly the brains of the notorious counter-insurgency program” of the Aquino administration, the Oplan Bayanihan.”

No longer unexpected

Activist groups also point out that Bautista’s appointment is no longer “unexpected” as military and police officials with cases of human rights abuses have been promoted.

In Aquino’s administration, General Eduardo Año, who was implicated in the abduction and enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, was promoted as intelligence chief. General Jorge Segovia was promoted to the 10th Infantry Division in 2010 after his stint as commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division in Luzon that was charged for the illegal arrests and detention of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal.

Signal of escalation

Human Rights group Karapatan said Bautista’s appointment “signals the escalation of human rights violations.”

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay noted that Oplan Bayanihan, a brainchild of Bautista, resulted in 137 incidents of extrajudicial killings and 154 cases of frustrated extrajudicial killings, as of December 30, 2012.  The group added that the operation is no different from Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya in its human rights violations.

She added that since 2010, Oplan Bayanihan had caused numerous cases of human rights violations, victimizing members and leaders of progressive organizations, including innocent civilians suspected of being members or supporters of the New People’s Army.  In December alone, Karapatan said it documented 27 people arrested, 16 of them are still detained.

“There are still incidents of bombings and indiscriminate firing, the use of schools, chapels, medical facility and other public places for military purpose.  People are still forced to leave their homes because of military atrocities in their communities,” Palabay said.

“Walay mahitabong pagbag-o sa pagka-appoint kay General Bautista, padayon gihapon nga hasion sa militarisasyon ang mga mag-uuma sa kabanikanhan (Nothing will change with General Bautista’s appointment, the military will continue harassing peasants in the countryside),” Antonio Flores, the national spokesperson of peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas told

“There is only the changing of the guard,” said former Bayan Muna Representative Joel Virador now of the National Federation of Labor Unions in Southern Mindanao.  He added that “the same US-designed counter-insurgency program will still be implemented by the AFP” with “the US troops as the masters under the baton of General Bautista.”

In November 2011, when Bautista took the lead of the 80,000-strong Army, Major Harold Cabunoc, the spokesman of the Army then said, Bautista fully “advocated the implementation of Bayanihan through the conduct of various programs and activities” to sustain the momentum of army units in winning the peace.”

Keeping US support

Bautista’s appointment to the highest position of the AFP is aimed to guarantee the continued support and protection of US interests in the Asia Pacific, said Ka Simon Santiago, the Political Director of the New Peoples’ Army in Southern Mindanao

In an emailed reaction, Santiago said it’s not surprising why President Aquino named Bautista to the AFP top post.

“Giilang usa sa arkitekto sa Kampanyang Oplan Bayanihan si Lt Gen Emmanuel Bautista, buot ipasabot usa sa pinakamasugid nga nagasubay ug tigpatuman sa US counter insurgency guide para sa hegemonya sa tibuok kalibutan. Dili ikatingala nga siya ang gitudlo ni Noynoy kay mao pud kini ang interest sa US army (General Bautista is known as one of the architects of Oplan Bayanihan.  This means he is one of the faithful followers of the US counter-insurgency guide for US hegemony in the whole world.  It’s not surprising why Noynoy picked him since is also the interest of the US army),” Santiago said.

Santiago added that the United States is eyeing control of the Asia Pacific for its huge sources of raw materials to help prop its ailing economy, and sees “the Philippines as an important outpost of the US in this region.”

The AFP through Oplan Bayanihan, Santiago said, is in cahoots with local politicians and other government agencies in forcing lumad communities to abandon their abodes to pave the entry of mining firms.

The communist spokesman added that under Bautista’s Oplan Bayanihan, there is no way that poverty and hunger will stop.

“Imbes sulbaron ang kagutom, reporma sa yuta ug pagtukod og nasudnong industriyalisasyon para sa kaayohan sa atong nasud, padayon nga gub-on ug kawkawon ang atong mga bahandi sa imperyalistang US ug uban pang dagkung kapitalista (Instead of giving solution to hunger, agrarian reform and the implementation of a nationalist industrialization that will benefit the country, the imperialist US and big capitalists will continue to destroy and sneak out our natural resources),” Santiago added.  (Alex D. Lopez/

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