DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has asked the Armed Forces to reinstate two Army generals relieved from their posts in January for the erroneous inclusion of several alumni of the University of the Philippines in a list of individuals who allegedly joined the communist movement.
In a statement, Lorenzana said he made the request to the military after he “exhaustively reviewed” the case of Maj. Generals Alex Luna and Benedict Arevalo.
Lorenzana, however, said he is not “completely clearing” the two officials of liability, noting they were punished under the principle of command responsibility.
Nevertheless, Lorenzana said, their track records “would show that they have always performed their duties conscientiously and competently.”
“Having said this, I have requested that the AFP reinstate Maj. Gen. Arevalo and Maj. Gen. Luna to their previous commands, but with the stern warning that similar incidents cannot and should not happen again in the future,” he said.
The list was shown by Lorenzana during a press conference in January to support his unilateral termination of a 1989 agreement between UP and the Department of National Defense, which prevents soldiers from conducting operations in UP campuses without prior notification of UP officials.
Lorenzana has said UP had become the recruitment ground of the New People’s Army, the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and presented the list of UP students who got killed and captured by government troops after becoming members of the rebel group.
Several UP alumni openly disputed the list and demanded apology from the Armed Forces as they said they never joined the NPA or were arrested.
They included lawyer Rafael Aquino of the Free Legal Assistance Group and Roan Libarios, former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Following this, Lorenzana said the military will apologize and called the mistake an “unpardonable gaffe.” He then ordered Luna’s relief as AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence, saying the list originated from the latter’s office.
Arevalo took a leave of absence as AFP deputy chief of staff for civil military operations after admitting his office’s responsibility for the release of the erroneous list on the social media.
Then AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay ordered Arevalo’s relief pending investigation on the incident.
“From the reports submitted to me, I believe that both men were not directly responsible for the lapse over the publication of the unverified and unofficial list of UP students who have been linked with left-leaning groups,” Lorenzana said of Luna and Arevalo.