MANILA, Philippines — With the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) looking on, retired soldiers, military reservists, and Muslim representatives on Tuesday launched a group they called Citizen National Guard that calls for protection from “enemies of the state,” including “Yellowtards.”
The Citizen National Guard also seeks to defend President Rodrigo Duterte from those who want to remove him from office, while safeguarding the nation against local and international threats.
According to the Philippine Star, the group named the following as enemies of the state: Islamic State-inspired terrorists, drug cartels, “foreign intelligence agencies generating international support for regime change,” the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, and “seditious political opposition (Yellowtards)”.
DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, a guest of honor at the event together with PAO Chief Persida Acosta, said he had created an organization similar to the Citizen National Guard.
“Meron din akong binuo na ganito at hopefully with this kind of organization, magkabit-kabit tayo [I also formed something like this and hopefully with this kind of organization, we can work together],” Aguirre said.
Antonio “Butch” Valdes, founder of Save the Nation Movement, claimed that the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and “European agencies,” along with other “regime-change architects,” had instigated negative propaganda and peddled it to the public through local and foreign news agencies.
They “seek to destroy the firm resolve and popular support of President Duterte,” said Valdes, former Department of Education undersecretary, who also heads Philippine LaRouche Society.
Retired Col. Herbert Escalera of the Philippine Marines called on Filipinos to “wake up.”
“Magising na tayo! Magsama-sama tayo. Isa lang ang bandila natin. Isa lang ang bansang Pilipinas na ito. ‘Wag na tayong magpalason, lalo na sa ibang bansa na ‘yan.”
[We have to wake up! Let’s be united. We have only one flag. We have only one Philippine nation. Let’s not allow ourselves to be poisoned, especially by those other countries],” he said.
Aguirre hits Church, overall Deputy Ombudsman Carandang
Meanwhile, Aguirre also took the opportunity to criticize the Catholic Church and the Commission on Human Rights for supposedly meddling with the investigation of police killings of teenagers.
“Matagal na pong meron tayong separation of Church and State. Bakit ninyo pinangungunahan? Kayo ang nagtatago sa mga testigo, tulad ng kay Kian, kay Carl, at kay Kulot,” the DOJ chief said.
[We have long had the separation of Church and State. Why are you ignoring it? You’re keeping the witnesses from us, especially those in the cases of Kian, Carl, and Kulot],” he said.
“Itong kay Tomas Bagcal, ilang linggo ninyong pinigilan ito? Kung ‘di pa dinedemanda ni Chief (Acosta) ay ‘di ninyo bibitawan. Naantala ninyo, sinira ninyo ang imbestigasyon ng pulis, ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigation),” he added.
[As for Tomas Bagcal, how many weeks did you prevent this from happening? If Chief (Acosta) didn’t sue him, you wouldn’t let him go. You delayed it, you ruined the police and the NBI’s investigation.]
Bagcal was the taxi driver who claimed he was robbed by 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz before the latter was allegedly executed by Caloocan police last August 18.
The body of a boy found floating in a creek in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija on Sept. 6 was identified by the parents of 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman as the cadaver of their son. De Guzman went out with Arnaiz before the latter was slain.
Grade 11 Kian delos Santos also died in the hands of the police during a drug raid in Caloocan last August 16.
Moreover, Aguirre claimed the Catholic Church had refused to release the witnesses to the government because it wanted United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard to take “a first crack” on investigating the killings.
The DOJ likewise took a shot at Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, who is investigating the alleged hidden wealth of Duterte and his family.
“Lumalabas naman po na tinanggihan ‘yan ng ating AMLC at wala daw silang nire-release. Anong ibig sabihin nito? Nagsisinungaling si Carandang. And besides, kahit pa totoo ‘yan, hindi siya maaaring mag-release ng anumang information tungkol sa ongoing investigation ng Ombudsman because they are confidential in nature,” he said.
[Now we’re seeing that the AMLC turned them down and hadn’t released anything. What does this mean? Carandang is lying. And besides, even if it were true, they shouldn’t release any information about the ongoing investigation of the Ombudsman because they are confidential in nature.]
The Anti-Money Laundering Council denied that it had furnished documents to Carandang, saying it was still gathering the information sought by the Ombudsman’s office.