The new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has instructed soldiers and military officers to exercise more caution in accusing individuals of having links with communist organizations, or the infamous practice called “red-tagging.”
AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in a television interview that one of the guidelines he first issued to troops and officers is to be “very careful” in pointing an accusing finger on supposed enemies of the state.
“That’s one of my highlights in my guidance yesterday (Thursday), that we should be very careful kasi the burden of proof ay nasa atin (because the burden of proof is on us),” he said.
Sobejana said the AFP also should learn from erroneous information that it had made public.
The new AFP chief could be referring to a Facebook post listing former University of the Philippines (UP) students who allegedly joined the New People’s Army (NPA) late last month.
The AFP- Civil-Military Operations Office (AFP-J7) has apologized over the incident.
“We sincerely apologize for those who were inadvertently affected by inconsistencies regarding the List of Students who joined the NPA (Died or Captured) that was posted in the AFP Information Exchange Facebook account. That article has since been immediately taken down or deleted from our social media accounts,” AFP-J7 said.
Some of the names that were listed include late activist and film director Behn Cervantes, Carlos Palanca playwright awardee Liza Magtoto, business journalist Roel Landigin, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios, and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyer Raffy Aquino.