/ 26 January 2021

UNIVERSITY of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines for falsely red-tagging its alumni, saying the baseless accusations put the lives of people at risk.

“It is unthinkable that despite the millions of taxpayers’ money poured into military intelligence, the AFP is making such baseless accusations, in the process violating the civil liberties and putting at risk the lives of responsible citizens who are actively contributing to nation-building in their chosen professions,” Nemenzo said in a statement.

In a Facebook post, the AFP Information Exchange named 27 individuals who were allegedly UP students who became members of the New People’s Army and were either captured or killed in combat.

The list included the late artist and activist Behn Cervantes, Free Legal Assistance Group lawyer Rafael Aquino, journalists Roel Landingin and Roberto Coloma, former Philippine Health Insurance president and CEO Alexander Padilla, Carlos Palanca awardee playwright Liza Magtoto, Ateneo de Manila University faculty member Marie Liza Dacanay, former undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Elmer Mercado and Libra Law founder Roan Libarios.

At least 7 of those named said they were considering filing a cyber libel complaint.

The military has apologized for the erroneous list.

Although the post has been taken down, Nemenzo said “the damage has been done.”

“More disturbingly, the list presents itself as only partial, identifying only some UP students. We are concerned that the AFP may be harboring a database of a much longer list of UP students across many years, wrongly and similarly accused as NPA like these student leaders who were our students some forty years ago,” he added.

The chancellor called on the UP community to assert academic freedom and civil liberties and stop the baseless red-tagging of students and alumni.

Nemenzo also urged universities similarly identified as “hotbeds of communist recruitment” to prevent campus militarization and assert an enabling environment for critical thought and academic excellence.

“We reiterate our call for DND Secretary Lorenzana and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to restore the 1989 UP-DND Agreement and enjoin them to a dialogue that would ensure we can work together to effectively secure our campuses from acts of violence, coercion, and terrorism that have no place in the university,” Nemenzo said.