Controversial Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr. should be more cautious about his statements falsely accusing Liza Soberano and other celebrities for their civic-minded advocacies, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said on Thursday.
At the hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense on the alleged red-tagging activities of the military, Pangilinan said such erroneous accusations expose the Armed Forces of the Philippines to unnecessary controversy.
Pangilinan also thanked Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense for admonishing Parlade for the recent “red tagging” of the opposition.
The senator said that the red-tagging of several House members and celebrities such as Soberano and actress Angel Locsin and former Miss Universe Catriona Gray has been severe enough for Lorenzana to reprimand Parlade.
Pangilinan said Parlade’s words as spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict carry a lot of weight so restraint should always be observed at all times.
The senator recalled that it was Parlade who accused the Liberal Party of conspiring with the Communist Party of the Philippines to topple the current administration in the so-called “Red October” plot in 2018.
However, when the opposition raised this issue with the DND and the AFP during the 2018 budget hearing, the two agencies categorically denied the existence of the said plot and cleared LP of any involvement in the non-existent ouster plan.
The senator expressed concern over the security sector’s “sweeping generalization” against student activists when it presented a video flashing images of slain young activists allegedly recruited by communist rebels.
“I’m very concerned about some of the video materials presented particularly the matter of students activists…It may be true to a certain extent, student activists ended up being killed because they have become the NPA or part of the NPA,” Pangilinan said, referring to the New People’s Army.
Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa has reiterated that the government remains keen on protecting Filipinos, especially the youth, from the recruitment efforts of communist groups who wanted to topple the administration.
While Parlade, Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo and other military men are being accused of “red-tagging,” their main goal is only to prevent the CPP, NPA, and National Democratic Front (NDF) from influencing hapless Filipinos to join their ranks.
The former police chief urged the government to put a stop to the half a century old problem of insurgency in the country and posed a pointed question to the Makabayan bloc.
Instead of complaining that the military and police are red-tagging them, he said the communist groups should complain against their leader Jose Maria ‘Joma’ Sison, “because in the first place, it was Joma Sison who red-tagged several groups that include Bayan, KMU, KMP, Gabriella, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, LFS, Kadena and others as major component organizations of the NDF which is one of the three inseparable organizations, the CPP-NPA-NDF, that aimed at overthrowing the government through violent means.”
Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe called on government officials to encourage discussion and free flow of ideas that are essential for democracy to flourish.
“We have to provide democratic space for ideas to contend, for as long as it is done peacefully. I think that for political discourse to be rich, it should represent all colors in the flag—red, blue, yellow, white,” Poe said.
Poe said the Constitution extends protection even to minority ideas that many may not agree with.
Meanwhile, Gabriela has lambasted the red-tagging of progressive groups by the military.
“We condemn the shameless and relentless red-tagging and terror-tagging against progressive groups and individuals by none other than Duterte government’s top generals even in the aftermath of a supertyphoon.”
“Tila mas naghanda pa sila para sa Senate hearing kaysa sa pagsaklolo at paglilikas sa ating mga kababayan. They went full force in the Senate hearing with their recycled and baseless claims while millions of Filipinos are reeling from the disastrous impacts of typhoon Rolly amid the pandemic. This red-tagging show is a waste of people’s taxes. It must be put to an end.”
This was the statement of Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas as the Senate panel pushed through with its hearing on red-tagging.
Among the security cluster members present during the hearing are the officials of the Department of National Defense, the Interior and Local Government, Foreign Affairs and DOJ; the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Philippine National Police; National Bureau of Investigation and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
Brosas reiterated that Gabriela Women’s Party’s track record of representing marginalized Filipino women in parliament can never be tainted by the baseless red-tagging by the government’s cabinet security cluster, adding that its “pro-women track record should never even be up for debate in a Senate inquiry.”
The Gabriela lawmaker said the Senate is wasting the people’s time and money for indulging in the testimonies of the military’s witnesses while covering up the dangers by the Anti-Terror Law and the Task Force’s P19.1 billion for next year.
“Parlade and the NTF-ELCAC are the ones who should be on the hot seat for failing to publicize the contents of the National Peace Framework, which is supposedly the basis of the funding and operations of the Task Force as per Executive Order No. 70,” said Brosas.
“This Senate inquiry, as it appears, is geared towards further endangering our lives and safety instead of protecting free speech and other fundamental rights. By repeatedly accusing us as terrorists, these generals desperately seek to weaponize the Anti-Terror Law draconian terms against us. This is the precise reason why we strongly objected to the measure, because the terrorist tag can be loosely used against ordinary citizens.
“A Senate hearing is not a proper venue to ferret out the truth behind these preposterous allegations against duly elected partylists. If the cabinet security cluster has indeed evidence, they should go to court instead of repeatedly resorting to the court of public opinion.
“For the past two decades, there have been countless attempts to discredit us but we have always emerged victorious because of the unwavering support from the women and the people. Let it be known that we will not cower in fear,” Brosas said.