Military ‘sorry’ for false list of dead or captured NPA

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (UP) apologized for its false list of University of the Philippines (UP) students who died or were captured as New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

In a statement, the AFP said it sincerely apologizes to those “inadvertently affected by inconsistencies” in the list published on its Facebook account.

The AFP said its Civil-Military Operations Office is already conducting an internal investigation, adding it will hold to account those responsible.

The AFP apology,

The list had gone viral despite being deleted shortly after publication.

Among those listed as dead or captured NPA rebels are prominent UP alumni, including former government officials.

Former Congressman and Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios, former Government of the Republic of the Philippines Negotiating Panel chairperson and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation president Atty. Alexander Padilla, former Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources executive Elmer Mercado, and stage and film director Behn Cervantes who died of natural causes in August 2013 were among those listed.

False list

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the inclusion of at least two journalists in the list.

The NUJP said the listing of Agence France Presse bureau chief for Singapore and Malaysia Roberto “Bobby” Coloma and business and economic journalist Roel Landingin was “malicious red-tagging” by the military.

“It is appalling how the military office tasked with communicating with the citizenry has shamelessly resorted to such blatant falsehood to push the narrative of UP as the supposed ‘breeding ground’ of enemies of the state,” the NUJP said.

“We would normally dismiss this canard as laughably stupid. However, putting the people it names in mortal danger is no laughing matter at all. Especially since AFP units are known to spread disinformation such as this through their own social media accounts,” the media group added.

Schools reject Parlade’s allegation

In a related development, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and the Far Eastern University (FEU) protested their inclusion in another list as recruitment havens for the NPA.

In a repeat of his allegations in 2018, National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade said the NPA recruits new members from 18 Philippine colleges and universities.

ADMU President Roberto Yap, DLSU President Raymundo Suplido, FEU President Michael Alba and UST Vice Rector Isaias Tiongco jointly rejected Paralde’s statement against their schools.

The officials said their universities “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.”

Parlade’s claims are “really getting old” and that the accusations were irresponsibly “cast without proof,” the school officials said.

Parlade’s statement and the AFP list followed defense secretary’s Delfin Lorenzana’s unilateral abrogation last week of the UP-Department of National Defense Agreement of 1989 requiring the AFP to seek permission before conducting operations in campus.

The move earned widespread condemnation from UP alumni and civil society groups. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UP-DND accord Lorenzana wants ended stems from abduction of Donat Continente

The University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense (UP-DND) agreement that secretary Delfin Lorenzana wants ended stemmed from an abduction of an employee inside the campus in 1989, alumni recalled.

UP College of Mass Communications professor Danilo Arao said their Philippine Collegian employee Donato Continente was abducted on the night of June 16, 1989 in front of the university’s Vinzon’s Hall by covert operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“As a news writer of the Philippine Collegian (at the time), I remember the abduction of our staff Donato Continente on the night of June 16 at Vinzons Hall. He was tortured and forced to confess to the killing of Col. James Rowe. This is why the UP-DND accord was signed 14 days later,” Arao said.

Rowe was a United States military advisor to the then Corazon Aquino government under the Joint US Military Advisory Group who was killed by the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Arao recalled that the so-called arresting officers “acted like goons who just simply forced Donat (Continente’s nickname) inside a vehicle.

“[H]e was brought to (Camp) Crame but he was surfaced the day after (or two days after) the abduction, the now journalism professor recalled of the covert operations.

“Donat’s abduction was frightening then. He was simply snatched in front of Vinzon’s Hall. Extrajudicial killing was rampant then and we were very worried for him,” he added in Filipino.

After being convicted with fellow Kabataan para sa Demokrasya at Nasyonalismo member Juanito Itaas, Continente was released in 2005.

BACKREAD: Who was Col. James Rowe and his alleged assassins

Unilateral abrogation

In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion, Lorenzana said the agreement is “terminated or abrogated effective this date (January 15).”

The agreement prevents state forces from entering UP campuses without coordinating with the university administration.

It was signed between then UP President Jose Abueva and national defense secretary Fidel Ramos on June 30, 1989 disallowing military and police presence on campus.

It was an update of the so-called Sotto-Enrile Accord of 1982 between then League of Filipino Students chairperson Sonia Sotto and national defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile as the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship formally ended its Martial Law.

In his letter, Lorenzana cited alleged Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA recruitment in UP and to prevent further alienation between UP students and the State’s armed forces as reasons for his decision.

“We want them (the students) to see their Armed Forces and Police as protectors worthy of trust, not fear,” Lorenzana claimed.

UP’s strong stance on human rights have always been a source of irritation to the State’s defense establishment. (Photo by Maricon Montajes/Kodao)

What the Agreement says

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general and former UP student Renato Reyes, Jr. said it is crucial to remember what happened to Continente in understanding why the agreement came into being.

“[It] triggered discussions on the conduct of military operations on campus…[as it] laid down guidelines in the conduct of police and military operations so that what happened to Donat in UP would not be repeated,” Reyes said.

Among the accord’s important provisions is one that requires the AFP and PNP to notify the UP administration of military and police operations including the serving of search and arrest warrants inside UP.

“The military cannot just enter UP campus grounds at any time, unless there is an emergency or there is hot pursuit of suspects, or unless there is a request for police assistance by the administration,” Reyes explained.

The UP-DND accord also prohibits the AFP and PNP from interfering in peaceful protest actions inside UP premises. Such protests are the responsibility of the UP administration.

UP campuses nationwide had been the venues of protest actions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and the Rodrigo Duterte’s prohibitions of rallies last year.

Under the accord, the AFP and PNP must also notify the UP administration at the soonest possible time of any arrest of a UP student, faculty or personnel.

The agreement also states that no UP student, faculty or personnel should be subjected to custodial investigation without first informing the UP President or Chancellor and without the presence of a lawyer, Reyes said.

“The UP-DND accord provides safeguards for the rights of the members of the UP community against historically proven rights abuses, such as the case of Donato Continente. That the DND wants the accord terminated tells us it wants a repeat of those abuses,” he warned.

“What happens now? Everything that the accord prohibits, the DND now wants allowed. Yung dating bawal, pwede na. Yung dating safeguards, wala na. That is the implication of the accord’s termination,” Reyes said.

Continente still has to reply to Kodao’s request for comment while UP has yet to issue an official statement on Lorenzana’s letter. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)           

GRP verbalizes ‘all-out war’ vs NPA

DEPARTMENT of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is going all-out against the New People’s Army (NPA) two days after Government of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte’s outburst against the underground revolutionary group.

“Yes, it is an all-out war,” Lorenzana said in a press briefing at Malacañan Palace Tuesday. Read more