Progressive groups decry Año’s appointment as National Security Adviser

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) – Progressive groups are up in arms about President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s appointment of former Interior secretary Eduardo Año as National Security Adviser (NSA).

READ: Marcos names Eduardo Año as new National Security Adviser

"The human rights violations of these generals such as Eduardo Año go back for decades and placing him as the NSA would mean that he would continue and escalate these human rights violations like red tagging, harassment, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings against ordinary citizens and critics of the Marcos administration," Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri Colmenares said on Sunday.

Colmenares pointed out that it was under Año’s stint as Interior secretary that former President Rodrigo Duterte waged his bloody drug war. This period saw record numbers of extra-judicial killings and the harassment of critics of the administration.

Meanwhile, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) issued a challenge to the new NSA.

“Hinahamon namin si Año na agad niyang ilatag ang plano sa usaping pang-seguridad ng ating teritoryo sa harap ng nagpapatuloy na banta ng China sa mga Pilipinong mangingisda,” the group said. “Walang ibang dapat atupagin si Año sa kaniyang posisyon kundi ang magbalangkas ng mga estratehikong polisiya ng administrasyong Marcos para sa ating pambansang soberanya.”

[Translate: We challenge Año to immediately reveal his plans on security issues in our territory in the face of continuous abuses of Filipino fisherfolk by China. He shall do nothing else in his position but to establish a strategic policy framework for our national sovereignty.]

A game of generals

ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro described Año’s appointment as the latest in a “game of generals.”

"The supposed game of the generals happening now at the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and even the NSA seems to be instigated by a widespread ongoing purge of appointees linked to former Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez," the lawmaker said.

Colmenares expressed similar sentiments: “The purge of AFP and PNP [Philippine National Police] officers is not intended to take out the corrupt or those involved in drugs but is intended to take out what the Marcos administration considers as undesirable."

Just last week, Marcos unexpectedly reappointed Gen. Andres Centino as AFP Chief of Staff (CS), a position he was booted from in August 2022.

READ: Returning chief Centino: Strong, capable leaders needed for AFP unity, modernization

Castro speculated that the infighting among the defense sector was linked to Duterte’s enactment of Republic Act 11709 which set a fixed term for eight of the most senior AFP officers.

“Such political maneuverings involving the security and armed forces is very dangerous because such activities highlight the patronage system in the military and may lead to tensions within their ranks or even military adventurism if worse comes to worst," the teacher-solon added.

Prior to his NSA stint, Año served as the AFP CS, Commanding General of the Philippine Army, and the Duterte administration’s Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

His 2017 appointment to the Interior department also drew flak from progressives.