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 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.
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)