Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, National Security Adviser and vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is bloating the number of barangays that it claims to have “cleared” of the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) to secure more funds to be used by the military to ensure control of next year’s elections.
Esperon made claims that there are now 2,220 “cleared barangays” without citing any basis. If he gets his way, Esperon will have control of ₱44 billion funds for the NTF-ELCAC under next year’s budget, following its ₱20 million per barangay program.
Esperon’s bloated number of “cleared barangays” contradicts his claims made the same day that the strength of the NPA now stands at 4,000, which is 300 more than what the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed was 3,700 in December last year. If Esperon were to be believed, that means the NPA grew by one battalion in the past six months, contrary to his own persistent claims that the NPA “is on a decline.”
Gen. Esperon has had a long history of false claims. In 2006, as AFP chief, he declared that the NPA will be crushed before 2010, the year that Gloria Arroyo’s term as president ended.
In truth, Gen. Esperon is merely plucking numbers out of thin air, depending on his political aims. If he wants a bigger budget for the military, he bloats his claims of the NPA’s strength, and if he wants to brag, he claims NPA numbers are on a decline.
Gen. Esperon is one of the key leaders of Duterte’s de facto martial law rule. He is one of Duterte’s key operator tasked to secure military support for Duterte and his ambition of controlling Malacañang beyond 2022.
The Filipino people must denounce Gen. Esperon and expose his farcical claims made to help perpetuate Duterte’s tyrannical regime.