FALSE: List of dead, captured former UP students who became NPA

At a glance:
  • Claim: A list of former UP students who joined the New People's Army (NPA) are now dead or captured by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). 
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: At least 8 people on the list are public figures who are still alive and have not been captured as members of the NPA. There have also been no official reports or proof that they were members of the NPA. 
  • Why we fact checked this: At least 12 Facebook pages that identify as linked to the military shared this list on Thursday, January 21. 
Complete details:

A list on the Facebook page "Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange" names 27 people who are supposedly "UP [University of the Philippines] students who became NPA [New People's Army] (died or captured)." 

The list was posted on Friday evening, January 22, and had at least 916 reactions, 58 comments, and 467 shares before it was taken down on Saturday morning. According to CrowdTangle data, there are at least 12 other Facebook pages that posted the same list on Friday. 

This claim is false. 

At least 8 names on the list are journalists, former government officials, lawyers, teachers, or entertainment personalities who are still alive and have not been captured as members of the NPA. They are the following:

  • Rafael Angelo L. Aquino is a partner of the Santos Parungao Aquino & Santos Law Offices and is a member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG). 
  • Roel Landingin is a business journalist and was formerly editor-in-chief of the magazines Forbes Philippines and Entrepreneur Philippines. 

In a text message to Rappler, Landingin said that whoever posted the list should take it down and issue a public apology. “The post is patently false on all counts. I never became an NPA. Neither have I been captured. And I’m very much alive. Truth is, I have been working as an economic and business journalist for more than 3 decades now,” he told Rappler. 

  • Alexander Padilla was the former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president and CEO. In a statement on Facebook, Padilla said:

“I am appalled and disgusted [at] how government cavalierly plays with the lives of innocent people on that list. As for me, I am not NPA, never been. I have not been jailed or captured, never have. I am not dead, obviously. But I am a proud UP graduate of the College of Law. I have served in government for over twenty years and even served as chair of the government peace panel negotiating with the CPP/NDF/NPA. With these baseless allegations and because of red tagging and the anti terrorism law, I am now anxious for me and for others on the list, whose lives are now placed in peril.”

  • Liza Magtoto is a playwright and a member of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA). She is known for the comedy musical “Care Divas” and for “Rak of Aegis.”
  • Elmer Mercado was an Undersecretary for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. On his LinkedIn profile, Mercado denied ever being a member of the NPA. 
  • Marie Liza Dacanay is the president of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) and is a faculty member of Ateneo de Manila University. In a text message to Rappler, Dacanay said:

“I never became an NPA, I was never captured and I'm alive. I'm gravely concerned that an official AFP page is spreading false news. In the context of the unconstitutional provisions of the anti-terror law, I will not take this lightly as we need to make the AFP accountable for actions that are libelous and potentially endangering and wreaking havoc on the lives of individuals like me who are leading peaceful, meaningful lives as responsible citizens and advocates of democracy and sustainable development.” 

Dacanay also said that she is consulting her lawyer and organizations she leads on possible responses to the post, including legal action. 

  • Roberto Coloma is the Singapore bureau chief of Agence France-Presse. 
  • Roan Libarios is the founder and managing partner of the firm Libra Law. He has held a number of positions in the public sphere, including serving as president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines from 2011 to 2013, vice governor of Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Norte 2nd District congressman. He was also one of the members of the Consultative Committee formed by President Rodrigo Duterte to craft a new constitution for a federal system of government. 

Behn Cervantes died on August 13, 2013. He was an artist and activist who founded or was a founding member of the UP Repertory Company and PETA. He directed, acted, and produced plays, musicals, films, and documentaries, and has won numerous awards, grants, fellowships, and scholarships. He is recognized on the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Monument to the Heroes) memorial as one of the individuals who fought against Martial Law and dictator Ferdinand Marcos from 1972 to 1986. 

There are no official reports or proof that these people were ever members of the NPA.

The pages that posted the list identified themselves as connected to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The page that received the most interactions on Facebook was called “Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange.” Other pages that posted the list were: 

  • Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP
  • Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines
  • SecondtoNone Infantry Battalion
  • 9CMO Kaagapay Battalion Page
  • 141st CMO Special Enabler Company, 14CMOBn
  • 6th Civil Relations Group, Palawan
  • 12th Infantry "Lick 'Em" Battalion 3ID PA
  • 77th Infantry "Don't Dare" Battalion
  • 54th Engineer Brigade
  • 201st Infantry - Kabalikat Brigade, PA
  • 66th Infantry Kabalikat Battalion

The page "Conservatives of the Philippines" also shared the list, but it does not identify itself as connected to the military. – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com

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