CHR: Errors in government list of supposed communist rebels dangerous
In this Oct. 27, 2020 photo, members of national women's alliance Gabriela stage a protest rally at the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City denouncing red-tagging and to junk the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

CHR: Errors in government list of supposed communist rebels dangerous

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - January 25, 2021 - 5:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — Errors that the military played down as “inconsistencies” are a serious matter as it puts personalities incorrectly tagged as communist rebels at risk, the Commission on Human Rights said.

Lawyer Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson, noted the apology of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for publishing on Facebook an unverified list that wrongly tagged UP alumni as members of the New People’s Army.

But De Guia stressed that the military’s gaffe is still concerning. “Similar lapses, if left unchecked, can put reputations and lives in serious danger,” she added.

The CHR has long stressed the dangers of red-tagging, or the practice of labeling dissenters and activists as rebels, terrorists or enemies of the state, puts lives in danger.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia also said the military’s latest gaffe proves the danger of red-tagging as it shows that not only “the usual suspects” are indiscriminately damaged, but it could be anybody.

“With enormous resources and with all hands on deck, the government is still missing and messing the point on how to really address the armed conflict in our country,” Olalia added.

The AFP Information Exchange over the weekend tagged lawyers, former government officials and journalists as UP students who died or were captured after joining the NPA. Some of those on the list, who are former student leaders, appeared on an online briefing on Saturday to deny the allegations, including the claim that they had been killed. 

The military has since removed the list and promised an investigation on how the list was published.

Government reminded: No innocent lives must be put in peril

The CHR again reiterated to the government that they have the obligation to respect and uphold the rights of all people. This duty to the people not only involves protecting them from harm but “ensuring that government actions do not put innocent lives in peril.”

De Guia reminded the government to “use their influence responsibly” and put their resources to good use.

She added: “[O]ne of the best ways to give life to the AFP’s motto of ‘Serving the People, Securing the Land’ is being loyal to the truth, fairness, and the rights enshrined and guaranteed by the Constitution, such as due process and presumption of innocence among others.”

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which also called out the military's "ridiculous red-tagging," earlier stressed that if lawyers and people with stature can be put at risk by the practice, ordinary citizens who do not have the means to clear their names are left even more vulnerable.

“They are unduly threatened, attacked, or even killed by the misguided and unscrupulous,” IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa said.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 28, 2021 - 12:49pm

University of the Philippines President Danilo Concepcion shoots down allegations by the military of "infiltration" by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples' Army in the university's units.

Concepcion says the university administration had no knowledge of the allegations nor details and circumstances of such claims by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"We call on the military and police leadership to engage with UP and other universities in a constructive dialogue on the issues involved in these allegations, to dispel their chilling effect and encourage trust and confidence in our uniformed services," Concepcion says in a statement.


January 28, 2021 - 12:49pm

Maj. Gen. Alex Luna has been relieved as armed forces deputy chief for intelligence over the publication of an incorrect list of alleged communist rebels, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announces.

Luna's relief from the post, first reported by CNN Philippines, is over social media posts that falsely tagged UP alumni as having been captured and killed after joining the New People's Army.

Lorenzana says the incident was "an unforgivable lapse."

He says Luna's "negligence only shows a lackadaisical attitude towards his job resulting to confusion and damage to reputation."

January 25, 2021 - 10:54am

Military social media page Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange apologizes to people it tagged as University of the Philippines alumni whom they said had been captured or killed after joining the New People's Army.

Some of those named, among them lawyers, held a press briefing over the weekend to condemn their inclusion on the list and to declare that they were neither captured by the military, or, obviously, killed.

"The Office of the J7, AFP is already conducting an internal investigation as to how the list got published. Personnel who are responsible will be held to account," it also says.

January 24, 2021 - 3:42pm

Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University and the University of Santo Tomas deny the claims of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. that their universities serve as "recruitment havens" for the New People's Army.

In a joint statement, ADMU President Fr. Roberto Yap SJ, DLSU President Br. Raymundo Suplido FSC, FEU President Dr. Michael Alba and UST Vice Rector Fr. Isaias Tiongco OP say the charge is "really getting old" and "irresponsibly since cast without proof."

"We therefore object to General Parlade's statement and emphasize that our institutions neither promote nor condone recruitment activities of the New People's Army and, indeed, of any movement that aims to violently overthrow the government," the joint statement read.

JUST IN: Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, and the University of Santo Tomas...

Posted by The GUIDON on Saturday, 23 January 2021
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