LABELLING prominent personalities as the communists that the University of the Philippines produced undermines the military’s professionalism and gives the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) a bad name, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan recently said.

“Nakakadismayang may ilan sa AFP na sinisiraan ang pangalan ng institusyon at dinudungisan ang professionalism nito (It is sad that some in the AFP are giving the institution a bad name and tainting its professionalism),” he said.

Pangilinan stressed that aside from endangering private citizens, false accusations such as these also put the military organization at risk.

“We cannot afford to have a politicized and unprofessional AFP. Let us not forget that it was the glaring lack of professionalism in the AFP that caused it to turn against itself during the last years of the Marcos regime,” he said.

“Tiwala tayong magiging independent ang military, at gagabayan ng kanilang mandato na paglingkuran at proteksyunan ang mamamayan,” he added.

Pangilinan was reacting to the AFP list of supposed New People’s Army members who were either captured or killed by government forces. The list includes former peace adviser Alexander Padilla, who was also Customs chief and PhilHealth head.

“Bahagi ito ng tangkang bansagan ang UP bilang sentro ng mga rebeldeng komunista. Mapanganib itong pabara-barang mga paratang dahil nilalagay sa peligro ang kaligtasan at buhay ng mga nasa listahan and lives of those on the list),” said the former UP University Student Council chairman.

“Dapat tigilan na ng mga military na gumagawa nito ang pag-re-red-tag. Dahil sa maling pag-label sa mga tao, nagiging target sila ng panggigipit at pinakamalala pa, pagpatay (Those in the military who are doing this must stop the practice of red-tagging. Falsely labelling people makes them target of harassment and worst, killings),” he added.

Pangilinan reminded the bad eggs in the AFP that the Philippine Constitution guarantees freedom of political beliefs and free speech.

“Lahat tayong lingkod-bayan ay sumumpang itataguyod ang Saligang-Batas. Bukod sa ginagarantya ng Saligang-Batas ang kalayaan sa paniniwala at pananalita, sinasabi rin nito na hindi krimen ang maniwala sa anumang ideology (All of us public servants vowed to uphold the Constitution. Apart from guaranteeing the freedoms of belief and speech, the Constitution also says that espousing an ideology is not a crime),” he said.

On AFP’s accusations of shabu lab and criminality in UP, the first UP Student Regent with voting powers said: “Etong mga walang basehan at maling-maling mga paratang ng iilan ang sisira sa integridad, credibilidad at professionalism ng ating sandatahang lakas (These baseless, erroneous and false accusations of a few erode on the integrity, credibility and professionalism of our armed forces).”

Pangilinan has spearheaded the call for a dialogue between UP and the Department of National Defense (DND) following the unilateral termination by the DND of the UP-DND Accord, which among other things bans military and police presence in its campuses.

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