MANILA - A lawyer's group is urging the Armed Forces to fire a ranking military official for alleged persistent red-tagging claims, the latest of which involved a journalist whom he accused of being a propagandist.
"We call for a stop to this wanton and unrestrained attack on the people through red tagging that has led to the death of the victims in many occasions, and that [Lt.] Gen. [Antonio] Parlade [Jr.] be fired, not just relieved of his command but from the armed services itself because his acts constitute as threats to the lives and security of many," Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties said in a statement Sunday.
Speaking to ANC, lawyer Pacifico Agabin, the group's co-convenor, said Parlade should be "more discerning and objective."
"We issued that statement just to make the public aware, as well as the Supreme Court where the petitions [against the anti-terror law] are pending, to be on guard," he said.
The Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties, a network of lawyers opposed to violations of people's civil liberties and constitutional rights, challenged the validity of the counterterrorism law in a petition filed in August 2020— among several now pending before the high court.
Agabin raised concern over Parlade threatening Inquirer.net reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas about an allegedly “fake” news report about 2 Aytas charged with terrorism who claimed they were tortured by soldiers in Zambales.
"If such statement is made by an ordinary politician, that could have been just dismissed as a freedom of expression on the part of the politician," he said.
"Unfortunately, that statement was made by a man with a gun. Not only with a man with a gun but he also happens to be a general of the army."
Agabin noted that in any fragile democratic country like the Philippines, it is the men with guns who hold power.
Parlade is the commander of AFP’s Southern Luzon Command and also the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
The former dean of UP College of Law said the military official failed to read the journalist's report properly.
The report was based on a petition-in-intervention filed by Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos before the high tribunal seeking to join the petitions challenging the anti-terror measure, claiming they suffered direct injury because of the implementation of the new law.
"She didn't say that these facts actually happened. She merely recited the facts stated in the petition to intervene and of course, in any complaint or petition before the court filed by the complainants, it has to be partial and one-sided," he said.
"That's why we have an adversarial legal system because now the respondents are given the opportunity to refute the allegations in the petition."
ANC sought Parlade's side but he declined to be interviewed.