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EDITORIAL - âUnpardonable gaffeâ

EDITORIAL - ‘Unpardonable gaffe’

(The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2021 - 12:00am

If there was any doubt that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is engaged in red-tagging especially in matters related to the University of the Philippines, it was dispelled by what the defense chief himself described as an “unpardonable gaffe” by the AFP.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the AFP “will apologize” for a post on Jan. 21 on the Facebook page of the “AFP Information Exchange” that ran a list titled, “Some of the UP students who became NPA (Died or Captured).” The list included several prominent UP alumni who have served in government under various administrations and were never part of the communist New People’s Army.

The incident would be laughable, but the red-tagging could endanger the lives of those mentioned in the list, as UP officials have pointed out. The list, since deleted from Facebook, was uploaded following Lorenzana’s unilateral abrogation on Jan. 15 of a 1989 agreement between his department and UP, preventing government security forces from entering the state university’s campuses without prior coordination with the school administration.

UP officials have denied that the university is a recruitment haven for the Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA, as maintained by the defense and military establishment. Lorenzana has urged the UP community to work with the government in stamping out the communist insurgency.

Red-tagging and the “unpardonable gaffe” of the AFP is hardly the way to achieve cooperation in ending an insurgency, especially one that is fueled by social injustice. There is undoubtedly a segment of the population that wants to put an end to extortion and violence perpetrated by the NPA. The insurgency is one of the biggest hindrances to job-generating investments and economic development in the countryside. But red-tagging, especially based on factual errors, is not only counterproductive in this effort but also dangerous to those wrongly tagged.

AFP UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
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