Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Monday said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) release of false information regarding the alleged involvement of University of the Philippines (UP) students and faculty members with Leftist rebels merits a suspension of the termination of the UP-Department of National Defense accord.
Lacson said this after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana apologized for an “unpardonable gaffe” involving the military’s list of UP students supposedly recruited by the New People’s Army and killed or captured in clashes.
“I think it is prudent now for Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to at least suspend the termination of the UP-DND accord and hold a dialogue as he already mentioned he would do,” said Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
“They based their decision to terminate the UP-DND accord, signed way back, on what appears now to be false information. They included personalities that they said were captured or killed in action by the military, but turned out to be alive and not captured at all,” he added.
But the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said Lorenzana and the military should also be given credit for openly accepting the mistake they made.
“It takes a lot of humility particularly for Secretary Lorenzana to publicly apologize for the AFP’s blunder,” Lacson said.
But Lacson said it is basic in military tactics that the success or failure of the execution of a plan of action depends largely on the decision-making process and the decision must be based on accurate and verified information.
At the very least, the senator said the one responsible for submitting that kind of information and the one who made the announcement should be sanctioned.
“They should be made to explain and they should really be sanctioned by the AFP leadership if not the DND not only for putting the Defense establishment in an awkward and embarrassing position but more so, the possible dire consequences that could occur because of such irresponsible and imprudent act,” the lawmaker stressed.
And because of the inconsistencies on the list released by the AFP, Lacson said he is now having second thoughts on releasing his committee’s draft report on the red-tagging hearings held late last year.
He said he has instructed the secretariat of the panel “to revisit the final draft of the committee report.”
“We will have to ask the military to submit additional documents to validate reports on the personalities which they claimed during the committee hearings we conducted were killed, and if they were actually students of the universities mentioned by Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and the other witnesses presented by the AFP,” Lacson said.
“Naiba ang complexion based on these recent developments. Without these new developments, the committee would have relied on the testimonies and presentations made by the AFP which were not specifically rebutted by the other resource persons,” he explained.
Lacson also said criminalizing red-tagging remains a serious consideration, given the recent developments.
“Possible consequences could have been disastrous on the part of these people and even the military for that matter, since the troops on the ground could rely solely on the decision being made in headquarters based on false intelligence information,” he said.