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AFP apologizes for red-tagging UP alumni, while top universities object to 'recruitment haven' claim

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Jan 25, 2021 1:54 am Updated Jan 25, 2021 3:19 am

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has apologized for releasing an erroneous list of names from various universities who allegedly joined the New People’s Army (NPA).

“We sincerely apologize for those who were inadvertently affected by inconsistencies regarding the List of Students who joined the NPA (Died or Captured) that was posted in the AFP Information Exchange Facebook account,” the AFP Information Exchange said on its Jan. 24 Facebook post.

They added that the Office of the J7, AFP is “already conducting an internal investigation” and that the personnel who leaked the list will be held liable.

“We want to assure the public that we are now reviewing our processes and procedures to ensure that similar incident will not happen again in the future. The Office of J7, AFP remains committed to providing and disseminating information on social media platforms that will contribute to a better Philippines for all,” they wrote.

The list, which was uploaded Friday, Jan. 22, included bureau chief for Singapore and Malaysia of Agence France Press Roberto "Bobby" Coloma, business and economic journalist Roel Landingin, the late director Behn Cervantes, lawyer and former government peace panel chair Alex Padilla, former DENR executive Elmer Mercado, as well as former IBP president and ex-congressman Roan Libarios among others

That same day, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana released a video statement on his Facebook page expressing his stand on the abrogation of the UP-DND agreement, to which he says “is a fulfillment of a patriotic duty.”

“My intentions are pure. My goal is simple. To minimize the threat to the youth,” Lorenzana said,

On Sunday, Jan. 24, Lorenzana was quoted by reports saying that the list was “an unpardonable gaffe.”

Damage has been done
UP Diliman’s Chancellor Fidel R. Nemenzo believes that the “damage has been done.” 

“It is unthinkable that despite the millions of taxpayers’ money poured into military intelligence, the AFP is making such baseless accusations, in the process violating the civil liberties and putting at risk the lives of responsible citizens who are actively contributing to nation-building in their chosen professions,” Nemenzo said in a statement.

Nemenzo is also concerned of the possibility that the AFP may be holding more names in their database quoting that they have only mentioned “some” UP students.

“The list presents itself as only partial, identifying only ‘some’ UP students. We are concerned that the AFP may be harboring a database of a much longer list of UP students across many years, wrongly and similarly accused as NPA like these student leaders who were our students some forty years ago,” Nemenzo notes.

Recruitment haven allegation
Some of the country’s top universities, meanwhile, condemned a statement made by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., executive director of the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, in a DZBB interview on Saturday, Jan. 23.

In the interview, Parlada accused over a dozen universities in Metro Manila as “recruitment havens” for the NPA.

These universities include the University of Santo Tomas (UST), the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU),  De La Salle University (DLSU), the Far Eastern University (FEU), Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila among others.

The FEU, DLSU, UST, and ADMU then issued a joint statement, saying they "object" to Parlade's accusation.

“As universities with high aspirations for our country, we seek to direct our students to engage in acts that contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion, defend the country’s democratic institutions, and promote nation-building,” the statement read.

“We therefore object to General Parlade’s statement and emphasize that our institutions neither promote nor condone recruitment activities of the New People’s Army and, indeed, of any movement that aims to violently overthrow the government.”

Photo by Andy Zapata Jr.