MANILA - Journalists' groups on Thursday condemned the threat of a ranking military official to sue a reporter for allegedly "aiding terrorists by spreading lies."
The Justice and Court Reporters Association (JUCRA) described the remark of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as "utterly unacceptable" and demanded him to apologize to Inquirer.net reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas.
"Parlade did not only red-tag Tupas, he also threatened her with prosecution just because she did her job, which all of us in JUCRA do every day," it said.
"Parlade's cluelessness notwithstanding, we demand the general to apologize to Tupas. If not, may the people in power take notice of this threat and realize there is a deliberate attempt to use the law to chill our freedom and right to report."
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Parlade's remarks are "threats directed not only at those questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act but also at those covering those questioning the controversial law."
"The government has repeatedly issued reassurances that the law will not be used to stifle dissent or to clamp down on the press. But actions and statements by people like Parlade, who will be tasked with implementing the Anti-Terrorism Law, speak louder than those press statements," it said.
"Government inaction on the threat against Torres-Tupas and on similar statements and threats against activists and journalists means government consent and even endorsement of those actions and belies the claim that the law does not target criticism and dissent."
Parlade had made the remark in the comment thread of his post describing the reporter a "propagandista" over her article on the 2 Aetas that have sought to intervene in the Supreme Court's oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Act.
"Aiding the terrorists by spreading lies? PUEDE," Parlade had written in response to a comment asking if he could file charges against Torres-Tupas.
Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and his fellow-petitioners against the ATA earlier called the attention of the high court to one of Parlade's that allegedly red-tagged those opposed to the new law.
Parlade is the commander of the Armed Forces' Southern Luzon Command and the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
He has previously earned public ire for supposedly red-tagging actresses Liza Soberano and Angel Locsin, and Miss Universe Catriona Gray.