MANILA - Two top justice officials on Tuesday showed support for a newly-formed group organized to fight so-called "yellowtards", among other "enemies of the state."
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta were present at Tuesday's launch of the "Citizen National Guard" (CNG).
Its organizers said their members include retired soldiers and other supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The group said its mission is to protect the Duterte administration from so-called "enemies of the state" including what it describes as "yellowtards" or "seditious political opposition".
This category is included with other state enemies, such as Islamic State-inspired terrorists, Communist rebels, drug cartels, and foreign intelligence agencies pushing
to replace the Duterte administration.
"Kayo po ang magiging tinig na maririnig ng ating mga kababayan at gayundin kung nakikinig po yung ilang grupo na gustong wasakin ang ating bayan, sana po naman makonsensya sila," Acosta said.
In the press conference, the CNG and allied group Save the Nation expressed alarm at how "present conditions of terrorism, rebellion, drug proliferation, and insidious attempt toward regime change by foreign intelligence agencies have reached critical levels."
They said these threaten the welfare of the citizenry, peace and order, and even the Philippines' sovereignty.
The two groups said their membership includes retired soldiers, teachers, doctors, farmers, engineers, other professionals, students, and members of religious organizations.
CNG and Save the Nation expressed the following opinions and beliefs:
- that the Marawi siege is part of a larger conspiracy to acquire portions of the country and establish caliphates;
-that "for fear of being convicted and sentenced for crimes against the people, plunder, murder, usurpation of authority, criminal negligence, obstruction of justice, and treason, certain members of previous administrations of the executive branch, legislature and judiciary actively conspire with other groups intent on regime change;"
- that President Duterte refused to allow the Philippines to be used as a military base of a foreign nation which intends to use the country for the installation of "nuclear armed missiles as preparation for war";
- that those they identified as "regime change architects" such as the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and European agencies, through several foreign and local media entities, allegedly "seek to destroy the firm resolve and popular support of President Duterte;" and
- that these "regime change architects" and their alleged cohorts may "create a coalition of forces with similar goals, including the New People's Army (NPA), Maute group, drug syndicates, and political opposition to oust the president by all illegal means."
The two groups claim that these forces are working to overthrow Duterte and may even resort to "assassinating" him.
CNG and Save the Nation said they not only denounce these "threats," but vow to fight against them.
"[T]he Citizen National Guard and the Save the Nation movement reject any notion of foreign instigated and assisted regime change, contrary to the principle of sovereignty and interest of the Filipino people," they said in a prepared statement. "[T]he conspiracy of evil forces enumerated… poses as grave and imminent danger to the lives of our population, destroying the future of coming generations, threatening the integrity and the very existence of our nation as an independent republic," they said, in a prepared statement."
'This President loves our country'
Save the Nation Movement chairman Antonio Valdes stressed the role of the citizenry in fighting these so-called destabilizers and regime change proponents, stressing that the president needs all the help he can get to push the country forward and effect necessary change.
"We knew that we like President Duterte but we also knew that if you try to do good, your life will be in danger. If you're a true leader, you will lay down you life as the president is doing in order to fulfill his vision for the country," Valdes said.
"Hindi lang para sa pagmamahal natin kay Pres. Duterte, our love for the president is only superseded by love of our country. We are just fortunate that this President loves our country as well… naiintindihan po namin na kinakailangan mayroon po tayong gagawin, tayong citizens ng Republic of the Philippines," he said.
Retired Marine Col. Herbert Escalera, who spoke on behalf of the CNG's retired military members, said those who are no longer in active service have not lost their zeal in defending the state and will not hesitate to fight to preserve and protect its welfare.
He also slammed former military man and now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a member of the political opposition, for "poisoning the minds of the people."
"Ako po ay retired sa serbisyo pero ang buhay ko hindi pa retired. Tayong mga mamamayang Pilipino, magkaisa po tayo, huwag na tayo magpalinlang. Kami mga military matagal na gaming ginagamit, masama sa loob namin,” Escalera said.
"Saan tayo pupulutin kung hindi tayo magkakaisa? Si Trillanes, wala yan, nilalason lang utak ng mamamayang Pilipino," he added.
Marine reservist Horacio Gonzalez, who used to serve in the Department of National Defense (DND), claimed that the previous administration committed corruption and disregarded the rule of law.
"Ang previous administration, ang daming katiwalian talaga. Walang respeto sa batas. Kung ano gusto nila gawin, ginawa nila. Yung mga naglalaglagan choppers ng DND, may nangyari ba doon?
"The CNG was formed para gisingin ang nationalism ng taumbayan because we believe that the Filipino is a soldier… we are here to protect our country, defend our country, protect our people, support our president," Gonzalez said.
"Kapag traydor ka, hindi ka Pilipino. We are here to become the critical mass to defend our country," he added.
Renaissance Philippines' Ramon Pedrosa said he has joined many protest movements in his lifetime, but said the Duterte administration's war on drugs is the "mother of all protests."
"This is the mother of all protests. For the first time, we have a situation where the leader of a country, unlike the other leaders in the world, has identified a singular problem of his nation: a proliferation of drugs that has affected the youth of the land.
"When President Duterte identified the drug problem, I was able to identify with him because my family suffered [because of it]," Pedrosa said, adding "yung mga galit sa mga gusto sumira sa bayan natin ay sumama sa amin" as he echoed his colleagues' call.
CNG and Save the Nation said they have at least 25,000 members to date, with that number still continuing to grow.
Aguirre and Acosta, for their part, lauded the groups' efforts in defending the state and supporting government. Aguirre said he has formed a similar group composed mostly of retired generals, and active and retired military officers.
President Duterte said on Saturday that there are some who still cannot accept the fact that he won, and are bent on discrediting him and his administration with the end goal of ousting him.
"Yung hindi makatanggap ng kataluhan nila would keep on hammering because they want to pull you down and erode your leadership… Itong nga 'yellow,' halos mamatay na lang. Gusto nang bumawi," he said. "The voice of the people, is the voice of God. You want to rule this country? Fine! Get elected."