MISLEADING: Photos of 'UP students killed' after joining NPA

Claim: A Facebook page We Support AFP posted several photos of supposed University of the Philippines (UP) students who were killed after joining the New People’s Army (NPA). 

The caption on the post said, "Ang listahan ng mga UP students na sumali sa NPA, at namatay." (List of UP students who joined the NPA and died) 

Three of the supposed students in the photos were identified as Benjaline Hernandez, Recca Noelle Monte, and Melissa Roxas. 

The photo of Hernandez showed details about the date she was supposedly killed, along with her affiliation. Next to her was a photo of Monte, which showed a message praising her for her contribution to the cause. 

Four of Roxas' pictures, on the other hand, were compared against each other to confirm her identity through the earrings she was wearing and a mole on her neck.

The claim was posted on March 17, 2018. Data from the social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle showed that it has since been shared for over 16,000 times with almost 3,000 reactions and 500 comments. It resurfaced weeks after a senior high school student went "missing" and was allegedly kidnapped by Anakbayan. (READ: Youth activist to military: Don’t use me to railroad your agenda)    


The facts: Not all the individuals named were UP students or NPA members. Hernandez and Roxas are both human rights activists. Hernandez died in 2002, while Roxas is still alive. (READ: CHR reminds government: Activism is a right

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) told Rappler that Hernandez "never became a UP student" and "was not an NPA." 

Hernandez was a human rights activist killed on April 5, 2002 together with 3 other civilians during a fact-finding mission in a Lumad community in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato. The perpetrators were members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) led by Master Sergeant Antonio Torilla. 

Hernandez was deputy secretary-general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region, vice-president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), and was a campus journalist of Atenews, the official student publication of the Ateneo de Davao University. (READ: #TruthNeverDies: 'Killing a journalist does not kill the truth')

Karapatan, who keeps records on human rights activists, also dismissed the claim that Roxas is already dead. "Melissa Roxas is still alive today. She is not an NPA. She is a cultural worker," they said. 

Roxas did not study at UP as well. A Filipino-American activist affiliated with Bayan-USA, she was only visiting the Philippines to do community work. While she was in Tarlac province for an immersion program, armed men abducted and tortured her in a military camp for 6 days in May 2009. They tried to force her to admit she was an NPA member but she refused.  

Roxas identified these men as elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). In an ABS-CBN article, then-Bantay representative Jovito Palparan and Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) Representative Jun Alcover accused her of training in an NPA camp in Aurora province based on a video. Roxas’ camp dismissed the allegations. 

An investigative report was released on June 2009 “[clearing] the military from any involvement in her alleged abduction and torture.” 

It is true that Monte was an engineering UP student who joined the NPA in 2002. She was killed in September 2014 during a military operation in Abra province. (READ: ‘Never be silenced’: U.P. community leads walkout vs campus militarization)

This is the 3rd time in August that a claim was fact-checked in relation to youth activism. (READ: FALSE: Palparan innocent over 2006 abduction of 2 missing UP students)

On August 13, a quote that was attributed to Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Elago was rated false. (READ: FALSE: Sarah Elago’s ‘response’ to parents of student activists)

The page We Support AFP describes itself as a "Facebook page where you will find news, events, videos, and photos highlighting our Filipino Soldiers."

Karapatan is a non-governmental organization that promotes and protects human rights in the Philippines. – Glenda Marie Castro/ Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.