/ 29 March 2021

A GROUP of alumni of the University of the Philippines decried the reinstatement of two military generals relieved in connection with the release of an erroneous list of individuals who supposedly joined the New People’s Army, including former UP students.

The UP Alumni Freedom Project said neither the Armed Forces of the Philippines nor the Defense department offered a clear explanation regarding the red-tagging with the reappointment of Major Generals Benedict Arevalo and Alex Luna.

Upon the order of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana ordered the reinstatement of Luna as deputy chief of staff for intelligence and Arevalo as deputy chief of staff for civil military operations saying the officials were merely linked to the issue because of the ineptitude of other personnel.

Lorenzana said that the two officers should be given a second chance.

“We beg to disagree. No basis has been shown justifying the mercy of second chances. We believe that Secretary Lorenzana’s order for the reinstatement of the two generals is premature and yet another unpardonable graft,” the group said in a statement.

“The defense secretary’s action downplays the actual and continuing injury that the post has caused us and other innocent parties, amid the AFP’s irresponsible red-tagging activities,” it added.

The group, composed of lawyers Alex Padilla and Raffy Aquino, journalist Roel Landingin, playwright Liza Magtoto, development worker Marie Lisa Dacanay, and government official Elmer Mercado, said that the DND or the AFP did not offer a credible explanation for the erroneous list.

“Many of us in the list were UP student leaders who fought for the restoration of democratic rights and civil liberties that had been suppressed by the Marcos dictatorship. We have never joined the New People’s Army. Neither have we been captured or killed,” they said.

“In fact, many of us have gone on to become lawyers, academics, artists, journalists, civil servants, and other professionals who continue to be of service to the Filipino nation,” they added.

The group reiterated that it is planning to pursue legal actions over the red-tagging activities of the military.