Criticism greeted Malacañan Palace’s announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte’s planned appointment of Carlito Galvez Jr. as Presidential adviser on the peace process, citing the general’s role in the collapse of the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights in a statement said Duterte’s decision to appoint the retiring Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff as peace adviser is nailing the door to peace shut.
“What will a high-ranking military officer contribute to the advancement of the peace process when the institution [he leads] has been largely behind the derailment and collapse of the negotiations?” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Palabay said it is likely that the general will only turn OPAPP into the “Office of the Presidential Adviser on Preventing Peace.”
“War is business, and the military is adept at profiting from violating people’s rights,” Palabay added.
Malacañan said Wednesday the President is set to appoint Galvez as replacement to Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza who recently resigned “for failing to curb corruption in the agency.”
Duterte publicly fired OPAPP Undersecretary for Support Services Ronald Flores and Assistant Secretary Yeshton Donn Baccay of the agency’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program last November 26.
Before Dureza’s resignation, however, Galvez already announced he was keen on being a peace adviser when he retires from military service this month.
Prior to his appointed as AFP chief, Galvez was chairperson of the government’s Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
He said he used to visit territories controlled by belligerent forces in his 12 years as a military officer in Mindanao.
Karapatan, however, said Galvez is ill-suited to become a peace adviser because he actively and strongly opposed the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP, along with defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana and national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
““The mercenary character of the military prevents them from understanding that peace is not merely the laying down of arms, but a condition that necessitates social justice,” Palabay said.
Palabay also pointed out that Galvez’s appointment will make him the seventh former AFP Chief appointed to key civilian positions in Duterte’s government.
Among other former AFP Chiefs-of-Staff appointed by Duterte are Esperon, Año, environment and natural resources secretary Roy Cimatu and social work and development secretary Joselito Bautista.
“Duterte may think he is keeping the military in line by doling out key civilian positions to military men, but he is further endangering the Filipino people. The control of the military over communities will heighten, insidiously using civilian agencies as arsenal against Filipinos themselves,” Palabay warned.
She added that Duterte’s militarization of the bureaucracy undermines civilian supremacy.
“This is how the Duterte regime intends to stay in power amid widespread protest and resistance – fear and repression to be manned by a set of military men kept loyal through the awarding of political favors at our expense,” Palabay concluded. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)