A valid security issue

Over the last week, I have written a series of articles in The News Today about the security risks confronting military and police officials over top secret intelligence and plans on counter-insurgency that are routinely submitted to the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), which is chaired by City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog.

The security concerns were raised after it was pointed out that Jeffrey Celiz, the vociferous loud blabbering mouthpiece of Mabilog, may have access to the top secret information because of his newfound position as political affairs liaison and spokesman. And Celiz has not severed his ties to the New People’s Army (NPA).

As expected, the articles drew sharp reactions from Celiz, and another militant left figure, Jory Porquia. Celiz claims he is no longer active in the NPA; he has lived a life of peace and quiet, he said. Porquia says his organization, Bayan Muna, is not in any way connected with the communist underground.

Why is it hard to believe that Celiz hasn’t cut his umbilical cord to the NPA?

For one thing, Celiz has only his word to back his claims. Unlike the military or police, the NPA doesn’t issue certificates of honorable, or dishonorable as the case may be, discharge to guerillas who leave the organization. Nobody can substantiate his claim.

And it is common knowledge the NPA frowns upon cadres who leave the movement without a valid reason. Perhaps poor health is a good excuse. But saying that he’s had enough of the hard life of a guerilla, and now wants to pursue a peaceful existence, is not acceptable, according to sources.

A former NPA guerilla told me that you can only leave the communist underground horizontally —- meaning dead. Celiz just casually walked away, as if he just told his comrades “I’ve done my part, so just keep on with the armed struggle without me.” It doesn’t happen that way, the ex-rebel told me. In fact, this ex-rebel keeps a low profile, because he doesn’t want to advertise his existence in this world.

On the other hand, Celiz continues to advertise his link with the communist underground.

Even after he was appointed as political liaison officer of Mabilog, Celiz has consistently peddled the communist line in his own writings. More than a hundred media persons in Iloilo and Bacolod who are members of the “Media” group that I established on Facebook can back me up on this.

For a while, Celiz was member of this “Media” group, and during that time, he wrote about almost nothing else but sing paeans to Jose Ma. Sison, Mao Xedong and Joseph Lenin. He wrote about the struggles of the peasantry and about how communism would save them. He didn’t even write about Mabilog. I didn’t think Celiz posted those articles as intellectual exercises. He was trying to influence group members to embrace the communist cause. It was his version of a “teach-in”.

I also stumbled upon a police blotter report about a death threat made by Celiz against a barangay councilman in Tanza Timawa, Molo, Iloilo City last April. In this instance, Celiz warned barangay kagawad Cris Decena that he will have the hapless person whacked by the NPA. Knowing that Celiz was indeed an NPA cadre, Decena went to the police to complain about the threat.

Definitely, all these are not figments of the imagination. This is not fiction. And it can’t be denied that the military and police are uncomfortable about Celiz’s access to their information.

Let me add that this isn’t a military conspiracy as Celiz strongly advocates. This is plain journalism, pure and simple. It wasn’t suggested to be by the military. What I did was solicit reactions from them to allegations from Celiz’s own former comrade in arms. However, the Philippine Army and PNP have kept mum about the issue. I just talked with friends in the military and police for their personal views.

Mabilog has kept quiet about the issue. His strategy is to make it appear it has become a personal word war between Celiz and myself. He wants to pretend he is above the fray. But if he thinks the issue will just go away, he is wrong.

The issue about Celiz being the right-hand man of Mabilog isn’t confined to the security risks it presents. The fact that Celiz apparently holds the local chief executive by the balls, so to speak, is also causing discomfort to local businessmen. The name of Celiz is synonymous with destabilization. For so long, he has done nothing but cause destabilization in the streets as a militant activist. For a business community that is predominantly conservative, having an agent provocateur in the halls of power is worrisome.

Of course, nobody can tell Mabilog what to do about the issue. As DILG regional director Evelyn Trompeta put it, “it’s a judgment call on his part.” Mabilog is responsible for his own actions. If there are leaks, and such leaks result in deaths or injury to the government side, only Mabilog will have to be held accountable for his stubborn refusal to heed warnings.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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