MANILA - Incoming National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr. Clarita Carlos on Thursday said she hopes the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) would stop red-tagging individuals and instead focus on actually helping people on the ground.
According to the retired University of the Philippines political science professor, labelling people and identifying them as "terrorists" do not solve the problem.
"Why are you ID-ing [identifying] people as if you are concluding already? Stop this red-tagging," she said.
If adopted by President-elect Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., this would be a major shift in strategy against so-called "communist terrorists" in the Philippines vis-a-vis the hardline approach taken by the Duterte administration.
"And 'wag ka nang makipag-negotiate. Jusmio, parang bata pa ako nagnenegotiate na tayo. Tigilan na natin 'yan. Let us do the route of the peace councils because the peace councils are the ones nearest to these insurgents who really want to have jobs, who want to have education, who really want to dream to be journalists, architects, social scientists like me," Carlos added.
(And we don't need to negotiate [with the communists]. We have been negotiating since I was young. We have to stop that. Let us do the route of the peace councils because the peace councils are the ones nearest to these insurgents who really want to have jobs, who want to have education, who really want to dream to be journalists, architects, social scientists like me.)
Carlos said there has been a lot of evidence that a militarist strategy never works against insurgency, and thus, the government should do what works.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army has been waging armed struggle since 1969 or over 5 decades already. The Cory Aquino government began peace negotiations in 1986 after releasing all political prisoners, many of whom were communist rebels. Negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) were pursued by succeeding governments, but the talks collapsed in a major way during the Duterte administration.
"Empirical evidence after empirical evidence, the military route never works, so 'wag na. Para naman tayong loko-loko niyan, paulit-ulit na alam mo na ngang hindi nagwo-work 'yan eh. Do what works," she said.
(Empirical evidence after empirical evidence shows, the military route never works, so we should stop it. We look stupid doing the same things that do not work. We should do what works.)
"Don't waste your time doing these things kasi wala ngang katuturan 'yung sasabihin ko na ito terorista and all those labels. Because labels are so endowed with political meanings, nuances, 'di ba. Mayroon bang katuturan 'yang sinasabi mo?" Carlos added.
(Don't waste your time doing these things because labelling them as terrorists mean nothing. Because labels are so endowed with political meanings, nuances, right? Is what you are saying making sense?)
Instead of red-tagging and putting labels on people, the government should focus on the needs of insurgents in order to convince them to return to society.
"Pakialaman mo 'yung tutok on the ground. Magbigay ka, 'yung sinasabi nila, livelihood for people, give their children an opportunity to go to school and make them flourish as individuals. Isn't that human security?" Carlos explained, citing the importance of human security over other security concerns.
(You should work on the problems on the ground. Provide them livelihood, give their children the opportunity to go to school and flourish as individuals. Isn't that human security?)
'Yung inequality, 'yung ang laki laki ng agwat ng yaman saka 'yung mahirap, that will be a source of political violence," she added.
(Social inequality, the wide gap between the rich and the poor, that will be a source of political violence.)
Carlos also said that human security is often overlooked, but she will also focus on social and economic issues since these are the daily concerns of the people.
"They are really simple yet they are the real security issues...Hindi naman natin sila [other national security issues] i-etsa pwera, i-sentro natin talaga ang human security kasi 'yan 'yung day-to-day concern natin 'di ba?" she explained.
(They are really simple yet they are the real security issues...We will not neglect them [other national security issues], but we will focus on human security since these are what concerns us on a day-to-day basis, right?)
'FINELY CALIBRATED, CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT'
In terms of the Philippine government's relationship with its neighbors, Carlos said there needs to be a change in how the country engages with countries like China, the US, Japan and India, among others.
"I guess it's not only China that we have to deal with a finely calibrated, critical and constructive engagement. You can change your direct object there eh, it can be China, it can be India, it can be Japan, etc. Like that," she said.
"In my thinking, the operational definition of enhanced development is increasing the level as well as the scope of the relationship. And that is good, this is what we really need to do dahil kapitbahay natin ang China (because we are neighbors with China). Kapitbahay din natin ang America (We are also neighbors with America)." added.
Carlos also said she will call for a review of the Philippines' 7-decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US to reflect recent changes in geopolitics in the region.
"So siguro, kung time na maupo na ako as NSA at mag-aadvise ako, then I will advise a review of the Mutual Defense Treaty kasi parang 1951 pa 'yun. Iba na 'yung geopolitical environment eh," she said.
(So maybe once I take over the position of NSA and I give an advice, then I will advise a review of the Mutual Defense Treaty since it was done in 1951. The geopolitical environment has changed.)
The revisions will depend on what is the country's ultimate foreign policy and national security goals, Carlos added.
"It all depends on ano ba ang goal ng ating republika, and always, corny mang sabihin, our national interest will be paramount," she said.
Carlos likewise said the Philippines needs to recalibrate its relationship with China.
"We will just calibrate our relationship with China in a different mode. Not necessarily similar, but in a different mode," she said.
"So we're not saying na para naman tayong weakling na o wala na tayong magagawa diyan. I don't like to take that stand. We have to stand our ground and say, amin 'yan ha, kaya nga simula ngayon 'wag tayong magsabing we're claiming Kalayaan. Atin 'yun, sila 'yung nagke-claim," Carlos added.
(So we're not saying that we cannot do anything about it. I don't like to take that stand. We have to stand our ground and say that's ours. So from now on, we should stop saying that we are claiming Kalayaan. That is ours, they are the ones who's claiming it.)
Carlos is among the latest individuals chosen by President-elect Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos for his Cabinet.
She met with Marcos Jr. on Wednesday in his campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City.
Carlos is the executive director of the Center for Political and Democratic Reform Inc, a non-government and non-profit think-tank.
She was president of the National Defense College of the Philippines from August 1998 until October 2001.