OPINION: Parlade on judges, the law and the NUJP

Inday Espina-Varona

Posted at Nov 28 2019 02:14 PM

I chanced upon the very new Twitter account of AFP deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations Major General Antonio Parlade Jr. on Wednesday (Nov. 28) night. Several hours earlier, he was asked to leave the "Weaponizing the law and criminalizing dissent" forum organized by the National Union of People's Lawyers and the Movement Against Tyranny. Lawyers from the NUPL, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the counsels of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. De Lima were speakers. 

Parlade had plenty to say about the experience. But one of his tweets said: "All were afraid of what I could have brought to light. Inday Varona was there and came out to interview me on Samarca case as well as many other issues, including the killing of a judge in Cagayan. She was surprised to know (though) that I had answers to her questions..so change topic.”

That was an interesting take on the interview that took place on the steps of the Quezon City Sports Club after he left the forum.

He's wrong about "Cagayan." Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez was killed in an ambush on Nov. 5 in Barangay Mameltac, San Fernando, La Union. The Tagudin, Ilocos Sur RTC Branch 25 presiding judge was on his way home. He was the 5th judge slain since President Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016, according to the Office of the Court Administrator.

I had brought up the case of Bañez in the course of asking why Parlade wanted judges probed for acquitting suspected communist rebels. 

The slain judge had acquitted in September this year a medical worker accused by the military of masterminding an attack on soldiers. His son had expressed that his father was killed under a "regime that sows terror to those who believe in justice."

However, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Nov. 8 said the attack on Bañez, a former Commission on Human Rights lawyer, may have been due to drug-related cases. A day before Peralta made his observation, police said they were looking at work-related motives but had no clear issues yet. "Based from the papers, he acquitted a drug lord and that he received death threats because of drugs. That's what we heard,” said Peralta.

I was going to write a column on the interview. But it is best to show Parlade in full glory in this unedited video and the transcript of the entire conversation.

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We started with a question on investigative journalism outfit Vera Files’ Fact Check of a four-minute clip of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) presentation posted June 26 on the Philippine News Agency’s Facebook page. 

Vera Files called out the task force for erroneous economic claims about the Marcos years. It also said the task force’s photo illustrating alleged New People’s Army killings of indigenous people in Mindanao actually showed Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) executive director Emerito Samarca. The man students and teachers call “Tay Emok” was murdered in September 2015 by alleged members of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group. 

Vera Files noted: "Then Surigao del Sur governor and now 2nd District representative Johnny Pimentel called the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group, operating in several areas in the province, as a 'monster created by the military.'" 

Vera Files said warrants of arrest for robbery, grave coercion, murder, and arson were issued against members of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group on Sept. 22, 2015. But it added: "On July 26, 2019, the same RTC ordered the lifting of the warrants of arrests issued four years ago against the suspects for further investigation."

Here is the transcript, divided into topics.

Use of Samarca image

Varona: "... that (Emerito Samarca) was killed by the NPA when the governor of Surigao del Sur said it was very clear that they were paramilitary troops."

Parlade: I'm not privy to the entire story of that Samarca but what I know is because of the infiltration of the communist party doon sa lugar na 'yun, pinag away-away nila ang mga tribu. In fact, ang Alcadev na 'yan, it has been producing radical children. Kaya nagalit ang ibang maka tribu nila nang nalaman nila kung anong tinuturo nila sa Alcadev. And that’s the reason why, kaya nag nag away-away na ang mag tribu. At ang iba nag-decide na ipasara na 'yun, i-complain.

Varona: Why killing? Butcher? Because they have been charged. The paramilitary leaders have been charged with murder.

Parlade: I cannot talk about the killings. I cannot talk about that specific case kasi hindi ko napag-aralan 'yan. But I can tell you is the background that I know of. So, but I think that it’s a good case to be reviewed if you want because we are all for the truth.

Varona: Sure. I interviewed both paramilitary and the victims.

Varona: Second, what is it about the NUJP? Why have you been attacking the NUJP?

Parlade: I'm not attacking...

Varona: You’re calling it a communist front.

Parlade: I’m not per se but alam natin 'yan. Many of these officials of NUJP have been recruits of the Communist Party of the Philippines. And you should know that.

Varona: Tell me, who are you talking about? The NUJP is a communist front?

Parlade: No. Oh, yes. NUJP is a communist front.

Varona: Because why?

Parlade: Because it has been… it's in my document. That's why I wanted to talk.

Varona: But tell us...

Parlade: I brought the document here.

Varona: No, tell us here. I’m interviewing you. Why is the NUJP a communist front? When it’s recognized by practically all media organizations here and even abroad?

Parlade: Even if it’s recognized abroad, it doesn’t prove that you are a clean organization.

Varona: How can you prove that it has done anything?

Parlade: You know what? I can let you face a lot of NUJP officials before na naging NPA na kasama na nagsasalita na ngayon and maybe that’s...

Varona: NUJP officials before? Who became NPAs? Give us names.

Parlade: No, I’m not going to... 

Varona: Give us names because if you’re really for the truth, give us names of so-called NUJP officials who became NPAs and are now speaking out.

Parlade: Madami and I don’t have the list but I’m telling you...

Varona: It’s so easy to find out the names of officials of NUJP.

Parlade: I can get back to you if you want and then I’ll bring the people if you want.

Varona: Okay, sure.

Parlade: So what’s your second question. You have another question?

Hurting over acquittals

Varona: My second question is, you said at one point that the Supreme Court should be investigating judges who acquit people accused by the military. The PNA quotes you there...

Parlade: No, no, no. Yes, I said something like uh, conducting an investigation because why are there so many dismissals of cases, especially if it’s about the Communist Party of the Philippines and cadres of the New People’s Army?

Varona: Okay, it hasn’t occurred to you that the dismissals are because the judges find your cases weak?

Parlade: It could be. That’s why I say investigate.

Varona: Why would...

Parlade: I am not being judgmental...

Varona: The Supreme Court does not investigate acquittals, right? 

Parlade: I don’t know.

Varona: Because that’s in the Constitution.

Parlade: I’m not a lawyer.

Varona: The Constitution says that once you’ve been acquitted, you’re acquitted.

Parlade: Yes.

Varona: The case goes to the Supreme Court only if you’ve been judged guilty and you appeal.

Parlade: I’m sorry, I’m not a lawyer. I cannot.. but what I’m saying is...

Varona: Then why would you say these things?

Parlade: Because there’s a lot of cases na very, very strong ang evidence. Ang pieces of evidence very, very strong. Corroborative evidence very strong. Ang testimony ng mga witnesses very strong. And yet nadi-dismiss. And I can cite some...

Varona: Are you saying that a judge’s decision is not enough because you think a case is strong?

Parlade: Alam naman natin 'yun. It was discussed there in the forum. They mentioned, they told us, that our judicial system is flawed. Precisely, may mga flaws ang ating judicial system and that is the reason why it’s taken advantage (of) and ine-exploit.

Varona: It’s usually flawed for the powerful. 

Parlade: No. Ine-exploit ng magagaling and that's no fair.

Varona: Are you trying to say that if the judges say that you violated the law during arrest, that is an exploitation of the judicial system?

Parlade: No, no, I did not say anything like that.

Varona: Are you trying to say...

Parlade: Don’t put words into my mouth.

Varona: That when people contest your cases filed against them...

Parlade: No, no.

Varona: It’s exploitation?

Parlade: No, no.

Varona: So why are you saying...

Parlade: What we want...

Varona: that the judges are...

Parlate: is a fair trial.

Varona: Where in the law does it say that the judges should be investigated...

Parlade: I don’t know...

Varona: because they acquit?

Parlade: I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer. But I was just saying that we should maybe conduct some inquiry, some investigation, deeper investigation on these cases. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not really a lawyer.

Varona: And we’ve had judges killed when they acquit.

Parlade: Sorry?

Varona: We’ve had a judge killed because they acquitted.

Parlade: No, I don’t know.

Varona: You don’t know?

Parlade: Are you telling me na meron mga pinatay na mga judges because...

Varona: Actually, the day after you said that statement, a judge in Ilocos was killed.

Parlade: Do you know the background of that case?

Varona: Yes, the son actually said that he...

Parlade: Tell me, tell me...

Varona: Yes, I know. It was a health worker and she was...

Parlade: No.

Varona: No? Are you trying to say that the judge was killed otherwise? Are you investigating the killing of the judge?

Parlade: I checked the killing and I found, we found out, that there are two or three other cases and it’s about drugs. It’s about drugs.

Varona: Are you saying the judge who was killed was involved in drugs?

Parlade: No, no, don’t put words into my mouth.

Varona: So, what?

Parlade: I said it’s about drugs. I don’t know where that case is going but it is drug related. So it could be some drug lord.

Varona: Do they, you, have suspects, drug lords, now?

Parlade: I’m not an investigator.

Varona: You’re not an investigator. You’re not an investigator either.

Parlade: Yes. So let’s not talk about that. But what I’m telling you, what I’m telling you is that our justice system is flawed and this is precisely the reason why these brilliant lawyers are trying to go around it and using this law and accusing the government.

Varona: Are you saying the justice system is flawed because it’s really for the powerful?

Parlade: Ma’am you know what, I am also a victim of human rights. I am also, yes, I was a victim of martial law. Maliit ako, binabatuta ako ng PC on my 13th birthday sa loob ng bahay ko. Kaya galit ako sa mga police, mga PC noong panahon ng martial law. 

Varona: So why are you justifying?

Parlade: So I have no reason to support and even tolerate human rights violations. I want to make it very, very clear.

Varona: But why are you questioning judges when they acquit?

Parlade: No, I’m just giving an observation. I’m just sharing to you an observation. Kung kayo may na-oobserbahan, kami din, meron din kaming na-oobserbahan. But ito na 'yun. 

Why not a presscon?

Varona: When are you going to present the so-called former NUJP officials who are NPAs?

Parlade: Nakatawa sila ngayon. Nakatawa sila ngayon.

Varona: Sure.

Parlade: Gusto nila pumunta rito.

Varona: Why not?

Parlade: But uh...

Varona: Why don’t you call a press conference?

Parlade: You know what… ay, No.

Varona: Why not? Why not?

Parlade: Alam mo...

Varona: But why not?

Parlade: Alam mo...

Varona: But why not, general?

Parlade: I’ve been challenging them, the Kamatayan bloc. I’ve been challenging them...

Varona: Why aren’t you calling a press conference and displaying them?

Parlade: No, when we do that, we want to make sure that you, all this Kamatayan bloc members are there to listen to what these people are saying.

Varona: But why don’t you invite journalists to a press conference? That’s what press conferences are for.

Parlade: We’ll do it. Will you come?

Varona: Sure, why not?

Parlade: We’ll invite them (referring to the forum participants). Will they come?

Varona: I’m not answerable for these people.

Parlade: So, what’s the point. The point is, let’s enforce laws.

Varona: So you’re going to have a press conference?

Parlade: That’s what I’ve been telling...

Varona: With these so-called NUJP officials?

Parlade: That’s what we’ve been telling. What we’ve been saying is...

Varona: No, I’m talking about 

Parlade: Name your place, name your forum. We will go there for a debate.

Varona: Why are you asking me? Why don’t you call a press conference of these so-called NUJP officers?

Varona: When are you calling?

Parlade: Well, I have to ask them also if they’re willing to come out and show their face but you know what? Ang dami nila.

Varona: Sure.

Parlade: So huwag tayong mag-maang-maangan. 

Varona: We’re looking forward to the press con.

Parlade: Huwag tayong mag-maang-maangan.

Varona: I’m sure that’ll be about the truth, right? Thank you, general. 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.