MANILA — Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and his fellow-petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) have called the attention of the Supreme Court to a Facebook post by a certain “Antonio Parlade” that allegedly red-tagged those opposed to the new law.
In a manifestation and motion electronically filed Friday and physically filed Monday, the group of Carpio urged the high court to require the Office of the Solicitor General to explain in writing whether the social media post attributed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. is an “official communication from the Government or a public officer thereof including details regarding the source, circumstances behind and, intent of the Post.”
Parlade is the commander of the AFP’s Southern Luzon Command and the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC).
He has a history of word wars with progressive groups due to his statements linking them to the CPP-NPA.
The viral post, which the Carpio group discovered only on January 16, urged the public to “be watchful of these individuals, groups and organizations opposing a law [Anti-Terrorism Act] that will protect our citizens from terrorists.”
“What’s their agenda?,” the post asked, before proceeding to mention Bayan Muna Reps. Ferdinand Gaite and Carlos Zarate, Kabataan Party-List Rep. Sarah Elago, calling them “CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines] representatives,” and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.
They are among the 37 groups of petitioners challenging the legality of the anti-terrorism measure before the SC.
The post went on to say that NTF ELCAC will not accede.
“The Day of Judgement is upon you and the Filipino people, who have suffered enough from the malignant hands of the CPP NPA [New People’s Army] NDF [National Democractic Front] of which you are part of, sit in Judgement. Very soon, blood debts will be settled. The long arm of the law will catch up on you, and your supporters,” it warned.
Although the post did not mention them, for petitioners Carpio, retired Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales and other legal luminaries from the University of the Philippines College of Law, it is a “clear threat” to them for filing the petitions against the ATA.
“Petitioners believe this is a matter of serious concern that requires judicial remedy as the Post, if indeed made by a State actor, construes the ATA to be able to penalize the right to seek judicial relief before the Honorable Court. This is inconsistent with Petitioners’ fundamental right to ‘petition the government for redress of grievances’ under Section 4 of the Bill of Rights,” the manifestation said.
“Designed to intimidate (‘blood debts will be paid’), the Post also amounts to interference with the Honorable Court’s power to administer Justice, as it is directed to the Parties and their counsel days before the matter is heard by the Honorable Court,” it added.
The Carpio group turned the tables on the persons behind the Parlade post by accusing them of violating the anti-terror law themselves in coming out with a post that seeks to “intimidate the general public or a segment thereof” and “create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear” which is covered under what they cricitized as “vague” definition of terrorism under section 4 of the ATA.
The screenshot submitted by the Carpio group to the high court was taken on January 18, 2021, or after 19 hours since the post was made.
By then, there were already more than 200 shares and more than 1,000 reactions to the post expressing support for the ATA, Parlade and the Philippine government, while a commenter posted a collage of Makabayan bloc members accused of being a communist terrorist group and of having committed treason.
NUPL Chairperson Neri Colmenares, himself a former Makabayan bloc representative at the House of Representatives, lauded the Carpio group’s move.
“Mabuti nag-raise si Justice Caprio doon sa korte at mari-raise ito sa oral arguments,” he said Monday at a forum about the ATA before labor groups.
(It’s a good thing Justice Carpio raised this before the Court and this will be raised during oral arguments.)
The oral arguments on the petitions against the ATA are set on February 2.
“Itong kanilang red-tagging, lalo na sa mga petitioners and counsels… example na dyan yung statement ni General Parlade na kung saan, 'Anong agenda niyo?', parang nag-i-insinuate siya na mga NPA kasi kayo, mga terorista kayo, kaya kayo nag-o-oppose sa terror law. At hindi lang siya nagsabi niyan, marami pa nagsabi niyan na galing sa gobyerno,” Colmenares said.
(This red-tagging, especially of petitioners and counsels — for instance, General Parlade’s statement asking what’s their agenda — this seems to insinuate that you are NPA members, you are terrorists, that’s why you are opposing the terror law. And it’s not just Parlade; there are many others in government saying the same thing.)
Colmenares warned that the post attributed to Parlade is contemptuous.
“Contempt 'yan sa court if you’re threatening a party, or petitioner or counsel of a party... Pwedeng patawan ng Korte Suprema ng contempt kasi sinua-subvert yung administration of justice,” he said.
(That’s contempt of court if you’re threatening a party, or petitioner or counsel of a party. The Supreme Court could impose penalties for contempt because you are subverting the administration of justice.)
He added this is also their way of stifling opposition to the anti-terror measure by scaring petitioners through red-tagging.
“All of these only bolster our argument that the terror law is not intended for so-called terrorists. It’s intended for the likes of Atty. Aquino, or si Atty. Evalyn Ursua who is also experiencing harassment,” Colmenares said.
“At marami pang petitioners na ang iba dito ay, in fact, may mga nag-appear sa Senate hearing na naaresto recently. It only shows the dangers of red-tagging,” he added.
In the same forum, Colmenares criticized the AFP for coming out with a list of supposedly graduates from the University of the Philippines who were either killed or captured NPA members.
But the list turned out to be erroneous because some lawyers on the list were neither captured nor dead, and were never associated with any rebel group.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called the error “an unpardonable gaffe.”
The AFP has taken it down, and apologized for the post.
Colmenares accused the government of resorting to red-tagging as a prelude to designation of certain groups as terrorists.
“Kailangan nila, politically, birahin ka. At ang intention nila ay i-isolate ka para 'pag nag-designation na sila, ang ini-expect nila na sabihin ng mga tao, ‘ay komunista naman talaga,’” he said.
(They need to attack you politically with the intention of isolating you so that when you are designated [as a terrorist], they expect people to say he/she’s really a communist.)
“Ang problema nila, maraming nag-o-oppose sa red-tagging nila. Kaya hindi nila basta-basta ma-designate,” he added.
(The problem is, many oppose their red-tagging. That’s why they could not easily designate anyone.)