There is a recent spate of fake news churned out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to cover up crimes and abuses committed by its units and hide embarrassing misencounters and battlefield losses. AFP fake news is sibling to AFP red-tagging. Waging psywar and promoting disinformation, the AFP has repeatedly proved itself to be a tainted source.
The AFP website “Kalinaw News” is a portal for false information that fall under the military’s department of psywar and disinformation. It routinely issues news stories claiming New People’s Army losses. They even provide photos of supposed materials left by the NPA from rifles to computers and cellphones to make it appear that the news is genuine.
The AFP has several objective in manufacturing fake news including:
a) to cover-up crimes of extrajudicial killings of peasant activists where victims are presented as NPA fighters killed in battle
b) to cover-up incidents of misencounters between AFP units or between AFP and PNP units
c) to claim successful combat operations for reporting to military higher headquarters
d) to demoralize, create confusion and cause anxiety among the the people and revolutionary forces by projecting false information about NPA losses in the battlefield.
The following are among the recent false reports churned out by the AFP fake news mill:
– 22nd IB claims a 5-minute firefight took place in Barangay Marinab, Bulan, Sorosogon on February 23. Soldiers presented a wounded “Red fighter” and an M16 rifle and explosive supposedly seized from the site. He is now under military custody and would be charged with trumped-up cases by the military. NPA field units reported no such encounter took place and that the wounded person is a resident in the area.
– 11th IB reports a 15-minute gun battle with Red fighters in Sitio Balaskan, Barangay Napacao, Siaton last February 14, 2021. Supposedly seized from the encounter are weapons, a laptop and other gadgets. NPA-Southeast Negros has reported that no encounter took place.
– 201st IBde claims three encounters happened on February 5 in boundary villages of Buenavista and Catanauan towns in Quezon. The provincial command of the NPA in Quezon reported that only one encounter took place on the said day, and that there was no NPA unit in the area where a Philippine Army lieutenant was reported killed.
– 30th IB claims an armed encounter with the NPA ensued in Sitio Barubangkaw, Barangay Taganito, Claver, Surigao del Norte last February 25. No such encounter took place, based on field reports.
– A joint military and police operation of the 90th Infantry Battalion, 72nd IB, and municipal and provincial forces of the Philippine National Police claims a firefight happened in Sitio Marinangao, Brgy. Sarayan in Pres. Roxas, North Cotabato, in the early hours of February 8. NDF-Southern Mindanao says what happened was summary execution of three farmer residents.
These are just recent cases of fake news. Circulating fake news has long been the practice of the AFP.
We would like to caution the public, the media, as well as revolutionary forces, against completely believing information being issued by the AFP. Extra effort and judiciousness must be exerted to know the truth.