Red tagging report: Senate wants Parlade out as NTF-ELCAC spox

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2021 08:07 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2021 12:44 AM

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade speaks to the media on Aug. 15, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Senate on Wednesday recommended the immediate removal of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as spokesperson of the country's anti-insurgency task force, citing violations in the 1987 Constitution.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in sponsoring an amendment to the Senate defense committee's report on red-tagging, said Parlade's appointment as spokesperson of civilian organization National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) infringes on Article 16, Sec. 5 (4) of the Constitution. 

This is because Parlade is also currently commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Southern Luzon Command. The general has been criticized for red-tagging celebrities, lawmakers, and other individuals.

“The appointment of the military command of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, Lt General Parlade, as NTF-ELCAC spokesperson is in violation of Article XVI, Section 5 (4) of the Constitution which provides: “No member of the Armed Forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries,” Lacson reported to the chamber.

The chamber adopted the amended committee report.

“Consistent with the aforequoted constitutional provision and as a matter of policy, we recommend that Lt Gen Parlade be immediately relieved of his duties as Spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC. We should prevent the potential conflict between the policies of NTF-ELCAC and the mandate of the security sector by engaging a spokesperson who does not hold concurrent mandates in the security forces. This should be a prerequisite for a spokesperson in the faithful performance of his official duty,” Lacson said, reading the amendment to the Committee Report No. 186.

Screengrab from the Senate session livestream

The said portion of the Charter states that "no member of the Armed Forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries."

The senator earlier expressed his concern that there might be confusion with his role, since whatever Parlade says in the task force could be a reflection on the AFP or his chain of command. 

The amendment also pointed out the possibility of conflict of interest given that the military official is handling two positions at once. 

"We should prevent the potential conflict between the policies of NTF-ELCAC and the mandate of the security sector by engaging a spokesperson who does not hold concurrent mandates in the security forces. This should be a prerequisite for a Spokesperson in the faithful performance of his official duty," it read. 

WATCH: 

Video courtesy of the Senate of the Philippines

Explaining further the recommendation, Lacson said NTF-ELCAC is an organization outside the military establishment, and not even considered as a military task force. 

"The NTF-ELCAC... is precisely tasked or mandated to some development projects in cleared barangays, meaning, cleared of insurgents. This is development-oriented, not even combat-oriented," he pointed out. 

The military official has been making headlines since last year, after accusing some celebrities of having ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines. 

Parlade has been using social media to call out suspected members and sympathizers of the New Peoples' Army in the midst of government's crackdown on communist rebels.

- with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News