Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has fired the deputy chief of staff for intelligence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines over the release of a list that tagged alumni of the University of the Philippines as members of the communist New People’s Army.
Ordered relieved from his post effective January 28 due to his “unforgivable lapse” is Maj. Gen. Alex Luna.
Lorenzana said the list of names of former students of the country’s premier university tagged as communist rebels came from Luna’s office.
“His negligence only shows a lackadaisical attitude towards his job resulting to confusion and damage to reputation,” said the Defense chief.
“We do not take these offenses lightly and I want to hold the people involved accountable,” said Lorenzana.
Alumni from the university slammed the list, which became viral in social media posts, saying it stirred misinformation.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines had earlier admitted the mistake and apologized for posting the list on its Information Exchange Facebook account.
Marie Lisa Dacanay, president of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, earlier said that the military must be held accountable for releasing what she called “false news.”
Earlier, the Philippines’ top Catholic universities also denounced a military official’s claim that the schools have become the center for recruitment of communist rebels.
In a joint statement, the Ateneo de Manila University, University of Santo Tomas, the De La Salle University, and the non-sectarian Far Eastern University described the allegation as “irresponsible.”
The universities were reacting to the statement made by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade naming 18 schools in the country as “recruitment havens for the New People’s Army.”
“This charge, though, is really ‘getting old’ — a rehash of the public accusation the general made in 2018 — irresponsibly since cast without proof,” read the universities’ statement.
Parlade renewed the accusations after the Department of National Defense on January 15 unilaterally ended an accord with the University of the Philippines prohibiting the military from entering the university’s campuses.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the accord, which regulated police and military operations inside the campuses, was being used as “shield” for rebels to recruit students.
In the joint statement, the four universities assured that they “value the Filipinos’ basic Constitutional rights of speech, thought, assembly, and organization.”
“We take as a sacred trust our primary responsibilities to promote learning and safeguard the rights of the young who are entrusted to our care,” the schools said.
“We are committed to this mission and have always held ourselves accountable to our primary constituents, the learners, and by extension, their parents,” they continued.