VERA FILES FACT CHECK: UP College of Engineering does not have a CPP branch

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and at least four Facebook (FB) pages claimed that the University of the Philippines - College of Engineering (UP CoE) is housing a branch of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Not true.

STATEMENT

On Feb. 20, the official FB page of the NTF-ELCAC published a lengthy post that red-tagged UP CoE alumnus Chad Booc, a volunteer teacher at a Lumad school, as an “underground recruiter and operator” for the CPP, New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Among its long list of claims, the anti-communist task force wrote:

“Booc has consistently been an underground recruiter and operator for the [CPP-NPA-NDF] even during his student days in UP Diliman, where he was part of the CPP Party Branch unit in College of Engineering.”

Source: National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict official Facebook page, “READ: Chad Booc?...,” Feb. 20, 2021

NTF-ELCAC credited the claim to the Sentrong Alyansa ng Mamamayan para sa Sambayanan, describing it as a group of “former CPP-NPA-NDF cadres.” The task force said the statement was supposedly made on Feb. 17, but a copy of it could not be found on the group’s FB page.

The exact same statement was carried by FB page Ka Eric Almendras, as well as a page bearing the name of the Philippine Army's 59th Infantry Battalion on separate posts on Feb. 18. The latter does not have a verified badge but regularly posts military-related updates.

Meanwhile, FB pages Team Philippines and Valencia City Police Station reuploaded NTF-ELCAC’s post on Feb. 20 and 24, respectively.

FACT

The claim is false. The college, through its Management Committee, issued a statement on March 17 belying the allegations and challenging the accusers to substantiate their claim.

It wrote:

“As with the maxim of law, the burden of proof always lies with the accuser. In this case, the obligation of providing sufficient evidence on whether there is a CPP Party Branch unit in the UP College of Engineering lies with the NTF-ELCAC, not with the UP College of Engineering.”

Source: UPD College of Engineering official Facebook page, “Statement of the UP CoE Management Committee on NTF-ELCAC Facebook post,” March 17, 2021

CoE’s Management Committee added that perpetrators who purport “false and baseless allegations” should be held accountable.

“We challenge those who accuse to bring forth the evidence of their claim. In the case that they cannot provide such, they should face the full force of the law.”

Source: UPD College of Engineering official Facebook page, “Statement of the UP CoE Management Committee on NTF-ELCAC Facebook post,” March 17, 2021

Meanwhile, the UP Engineering Student Council (ESC) said the NTF-ELCAC’s claim of a CPP branch in the college is “categorically false.”

Out of 39 engineering organizations officially recognized or seeking recognition from UP CoE as of the current semester, “none ... are officially designated, named in reference to, or directly affiliated to the Communist Party of the Philippines,” the UP ESC’s Feb. 25 statement said.

NTF-ELCAC Feb 20 201 FB post - Chad Booc - False


The NTF-ELCAC’s post emerged five days after the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Central Visayas Office (PRO-7) conducted on Feb. 15 an alleged rescue operation of 19 Lumad minors, a move slammed by human rights groups, progressive organizations, and the Cebu chapter of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.

Three days later, Booc and another teacher, two Lumad elders, and three adult Lumad students were charged by the PNP PRO-7 with kidnapping with illegal detention, human trafficking, and child exploitation.

To date, NTF-ELCAC’s post with the erroneous claim has gained 2,800 reactions, 490 comments, and 1,500 shares. It could have reached 1.98 million people, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

Among the top three traffic generators were pro-military FB pages We Support AFP, Philippine Army Spearhead Troopers, and Hugot Sundalo, which raked in a total of 964 FB interactions.

In May last year, the NTF-ELCAC also red-tagged the Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a student organization based at the UP College of Mass Communication.

Red-tagging is the practice of labeling groups and individuals of being subversives, terrorists and communists, especially those treated by the military as a “threat to the state.” (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The dangers of red-tagging under the Anti-Terrorism Law; VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Why ‘red-tagging’ is dangerous)


Sources

National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict official Facebook page, READ: Chad Booc?..., Feb. 20, 2021

Ka Eric Almendras Facebook page, Chad Booc? He is no hero volunteer…, Feb. 17, 2021

Philippine Army 59th Infantry Battalion official Facebook page, Chad Booc? He is no hero volunteer…, Feb. 18, 2021

Team Philippines Facebook page, WHO IS CHAD BOOC?, Feb. 20, 2021

Valencia City Police Station, Read: Chad Booc?, Feb. 24, 2021

UP College of Engineering, Statement of the UP CoE Management Committee on NTF-ELCAC social media post, March 17, 2021

UP Engineering Student Council, Official Response of the UP Engineering Student Council, Feb. 26, 2021

Philippine National Police official Facebook page, POLICE RESCUE 19 LUMAD MINORS UNDERGOING CHILD WARRIOR TRAINING IN CEBU, Feb. 15, 2021

Rappler.com, Rights groups slam police raid on Cebu City Lumad school, Feb. 15, 2021

Manila Bulletin, Groups slam arrest of lumad elders, others in police ‘rescue’ in Cebu, Feb. 15, 2021

National Union of Peoples' Lawyers - Cebu Chapter official Facebook page, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE…, Feb. 16, 2021

Philippine National Police official Facebook page, CHARGES FILED VS KIDNAPPERS OF 19 RESCUED LUMAD CHILDREN, Feb. 18, 2021

UP College of Mass Communication official Facebook page, NTF ELCAC, Parlade endangering UP CMC students with red baiting of org, May 13, 2020

National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict official Facebook page, REDS freeride of ABS-CBN issue..., May 12, 2020

UP Diliman University Student Council official Facebook page, #DefendPressFreedom: Official Statement of the UP Diliman University Student Council on the NTF-ELCAC's Recent Red-tagging of Various Organizations, May 13, 2020


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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