Ex-peace panel chair, 25 other looking to sue AFP for release of erroneous list

Published January 26, 2021, 12:10 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Former government peace panel chairman and former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president Alexander Padilla and 26 other persons are considering taking legal action against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for erroneously listing them as among University of the Philippines (UP) alumni who joined the New People’s Army (NPA) and have either died or captured.

Former government peace panel chairman and former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president Alexander Padilla (Marlon Sison / GPH-CPP/NPA/NDF Peace Talks website / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We have been talking among ourselves, the group, and our lawyers,” said Padilla during an interview over CNN Philippines on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

“We are leaving all our options open,” added the lawyer who noted that they could file administrative, civil or criminal cases.

Padilla explained the objective of the group is “really for the AFP to try to reform itself, that this will never happen again, at yung practice ng red-tagging should also stop (and stop this practice of red-tagging).”

“Sana tingnan nilang mabuti ang ginagawa nila kasi ito ay nakakasira ng mga hindi lamang kabuhayan ng mga tao but I think they endanger real lives of real people (I hope they take a closer look at what they are doing because they are ruining the lives of people as well as endangering their lives as well),” he said.

The lawyer said what happened to him and his group shows that this can happen to even ordinary Filipinos.

“Kung ito mangyayari to someone like me na medyo kilala ay what more yung mga kasamahan ko na hindi naman masyadong kilala (If this happened to me who is relatively known public figure, what more to those I know). They are all respected professionals in their own field leading peaceful, normal, meaningful lives,” he said.

Padilla noted he has been in government service for over 20 years in served in different capacities including Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner and Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary.

The lawyer admitted he has a hard time accepting the apology made by Defense Secretary Delifin Lorenzana and the AFP for the release of the list in social media.

“I cannot fully accept it dahil (because) it was hardly an apology to begin with,” Padilla stressed.

With this, Padilla demanded a proper apology from the AFP that should not be made in a “blanket” but done individually to each person in the list.

“Sabihin nila sa bawat tao na nilagay nila sa listahan (They should tell to each person in the list): “We are sorry this happened, this will never happen again, etc.,” he said.

The lawyer lamented that the AFP apologized for inconsistencies in the list.

“Calling us NPA, calling us dead or captured were actually outright lies. They were fake news. That should never have happened. So mali yun (that’s wrong) to begin with. Why not call a spade a spade?” he said.

Padilla added that this was worsened by comments made by Lt. Gen. Antonio Perlade who said that those in the list are not NPA members but of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which the AFP official described as the legal front of communist rebels.

“Hindi rin naman tama yun. Hindi naman kami CPP. Pangalawa hindi rin naman legal ang CPP. (That’s still wrong. We are not CPP. Secondly, CPP is not even legal) The Anti-Terrorism Council has already declared it to be a terrorist organization,” the lawyer refuted the statements of Parlade.

Though the AFP assured that an investigation will be conducted over the release of the list, Padilla expressed concern “in the end baka ang imbestigasyon nila will just blame a lowly clerk or a civilian clerk saying that they made a mistake in coming up with the list.”

Padilla noted that the list released by the AFP has released back in to during the martial law era in the 1970s and 1980s when he and other persons in the list were still student leaders and activists.

“Now can you imagine that list from then na nakuha ulit (that they got hold again) and 40 years later they are still using the same list that is wrong,” he said.

“Obviously they have not expunged their records. They have not reviewed their records. They have not analyzed. They have not even checked the veracity of these records,” he added.