CHR raises alarm over AFP's list of UP alumni who 'joined' NPA | Inquirer News
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CHR raises alarm over AFP’s list of UP alumni who ‘joined’ NPA

/ 03:44 AM January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has raised the alarm over the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) inaccurate list of former University of the Philippines (UP) students accused of joining the communist New People’s Army (NPA), saying it may put the lives of people in danger.

The CHR stressed on Monday that government offices must exercise caution especially over a sensitive topic like NPA membership.

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“Such gaffe, however, continues to be a cause for serious concern. Similar lapses, if left unchecked, can put reputations and lives in serious danger,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

“CHR continues to stress that government institutions, including the AFP, are imbued with an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of all persons. In this specific case, such obligation for human rights does not only include protecting groups and individuals from harm but also involves ensuring that government actions do not put innocent lives in peril,” she added.

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While the CHR noted and welcomed the apology made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recognition of the mistake, they insisted that similar mistakes should not be done in the future as the government owes people to put taxes into proper use.

“[CHR] notes the recognition made by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the wrong done, as well as the subsequent apology by the [AFP], for publishing an unverified list of alleged UP alumni who were erroneously named as members of the New People’s Army who died or were captured,” De Guia said.

“Government offices and officials are equally reminded to use their influence responsibly. This power to shape perceptions and options, coupled with the resources that enable them to do such, should always be put to good use. After all, the taxes that serve as the lifeblood of the government are from the people and are presumed to be always intended for the greater good,” she explained.

However, solons from the Bayan Muna party-list said an apology from the military is not enough as the lives of people included in the list may have been put in grave danger.

“A public apology is good but this red-tagging practice of the Duterte administration has to stop and cases should be filed for those responsible for these continued spreading of wrong information and fake news,” Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a separate statement.

“They are putting the lives, limbs, and liberties of those they are falsely naming and they should be taken to account for that,” he added.

Rep. Ferdinand Gaite on the other hand claimed that the government now cannot claim that they are not into red-tagging — or the process of linking activists and administration critics to communist groups — as they mistakenly tagged several individuals as NPA fighters.

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“Deny sila ng deny na walang red-tagging, tinawag pa nilang ‘truth-tagging’ iyong ginagawa nila. Ngayon talagang lantad na lantad na talagang batbat ng kasinungalingan ang mga propaganda nila.  Really makes you conclude that ‘military intelligence’ is an oxymoron,” Gaite claimed.

(They kept on denying the presence of red-tagging, even labeling what they do as ‘truth-tagging’.  Now, it has been revealed that what they are doing is filled with lies.)

“[…] Tapos sasabihin nila na walang malalabag na karapatan kapag hinayaan silang basta-basta lamang maglabas-masok sa mga kampus. Talagang kaduda-duda. Their actions belie their assertions, and it actually reveals their true intentions,” he added.

(Then they would say that no rights are being violated if they would be given access to campuses.  Their motives are really doubtful.)

On Sunday, AFP’s Civil-Military Operations Office issued an apology after netizens cried foul over the list. The list included some public figures and private persons.

Some of the names that were on the list include that of late activist and film director Behn Cervantes, Carlos Palanca playwright awardee Liza Magtoto, business journalist Roel Landigin, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios, and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyer Raffy Aquino.

READ: AFP’s Civil-Military Office apologizes for list of UP alumni who ‘joined’ NPA

The list was published on the “AFP Information Exchange” Facebook page days after the Department of National Defense (DND) terminated its agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP).

The DND-UP agreement bars unauthorized military and police presence inside UP campuses.  While the DND drew flak for its decision, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the move was meant to protect the university.

READ: DND exits deal requiring prior notice for counterinsurgency operations in UP campuses

READ: #DefendUP trends after DND scraps agreement with UP

/MUF

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TAGS: #DefendUP, AFP, AFP Information Exchange, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bayan Muna, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, communist movement, fake news, New People’s Army, NPA, Philippine news updates, public figures, Rep. Carlos Zarate, Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, University of the Philippines, UP
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