AFP to apologize to UP alum falsely included in list of NPA members — Lorenzana

AFP to apologize to UP alum falsely included in list of NPA members — Lorenzana

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has assured people falsely included in the list of former University of the Philippines (UP) students who allegedly joined the communist movement that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would apologize to them.

In a message to reporters on Sunday, Lorenzana said that AFP would apologize for the misinformation that it caused, specifically to Free Legal Assistance Group member Raffy Aquino, who was one of the names that popped out in a list published on social media.

The Department of Defense (DND) chief however said that he does not know how the military came up with such a list.

“Yes, the AFP will apologize. What reason will they give? I do not know. It’s an unpardonable gaffe,” Lorenzna said.

“I have asked a friend to facilitate my meeting with Atty. (Danilo) Concepcion sometime next week,” he added.

Days after Lorenzana wrote a letter to UP president Danilo Concepcion about the abrogation of DND’s agreement with the university that barred unauthorized military and police presence inside the campuses, a Facebook page named “Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange” released 27 names of former UP students who either died or joined the New People’s Army (NPA).

Aside from Aquino, some of the names that popped up included those of Behn Cervantes, Liza Magtoto, Roel Landigin, and Roan Libarios.

The page however did not clarify whether or not these were the people netizens pointed out: late activist and director Behn Cervantes, Carlos Palanca playwright awardee Liza Magtoto, business journalist Roel Landigin, and former Integrated Bar of the Philippine president Roan Libarios.

A netizen who left a comment on the post clarified that other individuals mentioned are people with actual day jobs and who were even, at some point, working for the government.

“Si Direk Behn Cervantes po died from illness […] He was with MTRCB, NCCA etc. Elmer Mercado is former DENR Usec (undersecretary), Sec. Alex Padilla was former Customs and another government agency,” the commenter said.

“Ma Liza Dacanay teaches social entrepreneurship. Liza Magtoto is a playwright with PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association). With due respect, please do your fact-check before publishing names. This may cause them harm. Just reading comments here, dami naniniwala. Lastly, please use your intelligence funds wisely. That comes from our taxes,” she added.

As of now, the post has been taken down.

To the page’s credit, some of the individuals mentioned in the list were believed to be members of the NPA who were killed in battle, like in the case of a certain Gerald Salonga who died after an encounter in 2018.  However, it has not been confirmed whether or not all of them are from UP.

In Lorenzana’s letter, he said that the due to recent events showing UP students allegedly recruited to the communist armed movement.

Lorenzana was heavily criticized as maintained that UP should be allowed to maintain academic freedom.  However, on Sunday, the Cabinet official said that he is willing to sit down and talk with school authorities.

“I listen to advice naman. I said I was open to dialogue,” he added.