General takes leave over ‘red list’ fiasco
MANILA, Philippines — After Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sacked the military’s chief of intelligence, another general who leads the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ civil-military operations took a leave of absence after his staff posted an erroneous list of supposed communist guerrillas.
Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, the AFP deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations, said he asked for a leave of absence “so as not to influence the ongoing investigation” into a series of mistakes committed by military officials in their anticommunist propaganda drive.
“[As] the chief of office for civil military operations, I personally take responsibility of [for] their actions. This is the reason why I issued a public apology and reiterated it in my succeeding interviews,” he said.
Arevalo took the leave after Lorenzana relieved Maj. Gen Alex Luna, the AFP chief of intelligence, for the “unpardonable gaffe” of releasing an unverified list of 28 alumni of the University of the Philippines, who were allegedly members of New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who had since died or were captured.
Luna’s list was then posted on Friday on the Facebook page of the AFP Information Exchange, which is managed by Arevalo’s office.
The list included the late stage and film director Behn Cervantes, playwright Liza Magtoto, lawyers Rafael Angelo Aquino and Alexander Padilla, former environment undersecretary Elmer Mercado, former lawmaker and former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Roan Libarios.
But the IBP said the named lawyers were not NPA members, never “captured,” and were very much alive, not dead.
“They are responsible and respected Filipino lawyers who serve well our country in various capacities and meaningfully contribute to nation-building,” the IBP said in a statement.
Lorenzana, who said he knew and respected some of the people in the list, said Luna’s release of the unverified and erroneous list was an “unpardonable gaffe” and “his negligence only shows a lackadaisical attitude toward his job resulting [in] confusion and damage to reputation.”
Gen. Gilbert Gapay, the outgoing AFP chief of staff, also ordered to “determine the extent of responsibility and accountability of those involved in the erroneous post.”
But Lorenzana said a probe was “totally unnecessary.”
“I don’t think the case warrants a formal inquiry. 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,” the defense chief said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.