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UP's Nemenzo: With intel funds, 'unthinkable' for AFP to make 'baseless accusations'

University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo on Sunday, January 24, condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after it falsely tagged some alumni as New People's Army (NPA) members.

"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," he said in a statement.

A Facebook post by the AFP Information Exchange falsely listed 27 people as "UP students who became NPA (died or captured)." On Saturday, January 23, at least 7 of those named said they are considering filing a cyber libel complaint.

The Facebook post has since been taken down but not before it spread online. On Sunday, the AFP Information Exchange said "thorough validation is being undertaken by our team to rectify the information."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said the AFP will apologize for its "unpardonable gaffe," adding that he is already trying to facilitate a meeting with UP President Danilo Concepcion in the coming days.

Damage has been done

But Nemenzo said the damage has already been done. He also expressed concern that the AFP may have a wider database of UP students wrongly red-tagged.

"We are worried that a military database that is riddled with factual errors may unduly become the basis for overt and covert military action against our students and alumni across 4 decades or more," he said.

The Facebook post came after the Duterte government terminated the 1989 UP-Department of National Defense (DND) accord, which prohibits the police and military from entering the state university's campuses without prior coordination with university officials.

Reiterating calls to restore the 1989 UP-DND agreement, Nemenzo also urged the UP community to continue its fight and protect the environment for freedom of thought and expression "that has nurtured critical minds, social consciousness, and a sense of service and nation-building that have become the hallmarks of [UP]'s tradition of education."

Work vs militarization of campuses

On Sunday, officials of Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, and University of Santo Tomas condemned the latest attempt of the government task force against communists to red-tag universities.

In a joint statement, the schools said Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr's accusation is "really 'getting old'" and was "cast without proof."

Nemenzo said UP joins hands with other schools who are on the receiving end of baseless attacks from the government.

"Let us together work toward preventing the militarization of our campuses and asserting an enabling environment for critical thought and academic excellence in our universities," he said. – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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