Lorenzana lauds AFP general’s move to take leave over NPA list gaffe albeit ‘unnecessary’
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has praised a ranking officer for taking a leave of absence pending an investigation on his office’s publication of an inaccurate list of communist rebels from the University of the Philippines (UP), but said the move was “totally unnecessary.”
Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations (J7), said late Thursday he was going on leave to avoid influencing the probe.
“That is a laudable act of MGen Benedict Arevalo but totally unnecessary as I don’t think the case warrants a formal inquiry,” Lorenzana told reporters when asked for his reaction on Arevalo’s move.
“It is an open and shut case: a list was given by an office to another office which proved to be garbage and coming from the intelligence division?? As I said it was an unpardonable gaffe,” he went on.
Arevalo took a leave shortly after Lorenzana sacked Maj. Gen. Alex Luna, the deputy chief of staff of intelligence (J2), whose unit was the source of the list posted by J7 on its social media accounts.
Last week, the AFP Information Exchange, shared on its social media pages a list of alleged UP graduates who were killed or captured in military operations. Arevalo, whose unit handles the social media accounts, earlier apologized for the blunder.
Outgoing AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay ordered an investigation last January 25 “to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.” The investigation will continue despite Luna’s relief.
Lorenzana said he believed that firing Luna will not affect the morale of AFP, whom he said he relieved based on the principle of command responsibility.
“Everyone knows the principle of command responsibility: a commander is responsible for whatever his unit does or fails to do. My action means that everyone knows this by heart and abides by it. I will not allow subordinates to be scapegoats,” he said.
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