What’s the Duterte government up to with AFP’s reckless red-tagging?


    ‘The list, for all its seeming sloppiness, is dangerous in the context of the Anti-Terrorism Act which gives unbounded power and discretion to the police and the military in ascertaining and declaring what constitute acts of terrorism…’

    BUSINESS journalist Roel Landingin, one of the 28 named in the latest red-tagging offensive of the Duterte government, has expressed concern over the credibility of the information that the military has and uses.

    “It’s concerning because it’s the type of info they use for military operations. Imagine if nag-reunion tayo (we hold a reunion) and they misconstrued it as an NPA assembly and pwedeng maging subject ng military operation (it could be subjected to a military operation),” he said.

    The presence of Landingin and five others in the list – lawyers Alex Padilla and Raffy Aquino, playwright Liza Magtoto, development worker Marie Lisa Dacanay, and former journalist and government official Elmer Mercado – effectively debunked what was posted last Friday, Jan. 22, on the Facebook wall of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange.

    That post, which was taken down later but not after it had been widely shared, carried the heading: “Some of the Up students who became NPA (died or captured).”

    Listed were: Purification Pedro, Ishmael Quimpo, Rafael A. Japa, Rafael Angelo L. Aquino, Reynora R. Reyes, Roel Landingin, Behn Cervantes, Tanya Domingo, Christine Puche, Recca Noelle Monte;

    Rendell Caguia, Ian Maderazo, Josephine Anne Santiago Lapira, Gerald Salonga, John Carlo Capistrano Alberto, Emmanuel Llana, Vic Haway, Alexander Padilla, a.ka.a “Gary,” Liza Magtoto;

    Elmer Mercado, Marie Liza Dacanay, Roberto Coloma, Ruben Veloso, Roan Libarios, Arnel Salva, Arthiur Samia, Jr., Benedicto Villar.

    The six denied ever joining the New People’s Army, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

    But what makes the list scary was there were names in the list that were indeed captured and killed. VERA Files reporter Rick Berdos’ research yielded the following information:
    Purification Pedro (died January 1977) http://www.bantayog.org/pedro-purificacion-a/; Ishmael Quimpo (killed December 1981) http://www.bantayog.org/quimpo-ishmael-jr/; Tanya Domingo (killed January 14, 2010) https://upd.edu.ph/ang-mga-babaeng-martir-ng-upd/;

    Christine Puche (killed July 4, 2013) https://upd.edu.ph/ang-mga-babaeng-martir-ng-upd/;Recca Noelle Monte (killed Sept. 4, 2014) https://upd.edu.ph/ang-mga-babaeng-martir-ng-upd/;Rendell Cagula (killed Nov. 10, 2014) https://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2014/11/up-mindanao-student-leader-killed-in-army-npa-encounter/;
    Ian Maderazo (killed January 9, 2010); https://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/regions/01/11/10/4-npa-rebels-killed-quezon-sorsogon-encounters-army; Josephine Anne Santiago Lapira (killed 2017)

    https://www.manilatimes.net/2017/12/02/news/top-stories/jo-lapira-aspiring-change-maker/366160/https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/948984/up-student-wanted-to-be-a-doctor; John Carlo Capistrano Alberto (killed February 2019) https://mb.com.ph/2019/02/16/up-student-who-allegedly-joined-npa-killed-in-clash/

    The list, for all its seeming sloppiness, is dangerous in the context of the Anti-Terrorism Act which gives unbounded power and discretion to the police and the military in ascertaining and declaring what constitute acts of terrorism, even assigning to them the authority to arrest mere suspects who may be detained for 24 days without bringing charges against them in court.

    Some 30 organizations have filed petitions before the Supreme Court asking for the nullification of that law. One of them is the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), where Raffy Aquino is a member.

    (Disclosure: I, in my personal capacity, and our organization, VERA Files together with CenterLaw, are petitioners against the Anti-Terror Act.)

    The group noted that the red-tagging came out after the Department of National Defense (DND) unilaterally terminated the 1989 agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP), which prevented state forces from entering and conducting operations inside its campuses without prior notification.

    What’s the end-game for the military and Duterte for all this lie and fear mongering?

    That’s something that we should all be vigilant about.

    As Alex Padilla said, “It’s all orchestrated and it’s not going to be a restful year.”