MANILA— National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he is currently consulting with some senators, as some members of the chamber appealed for the censure and sacking of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade as spokesperson of the country's anti-insurgency task force.
This followed his remarks linking some legislators and private individuals to communist groups, even calling senators "stupid."
In a public press briefing, Esperon said he has coordinated with Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who earlier urged him to look at constitutional provisions vis-a-vis Parlade's appointment.
Lacson had said an active member of the military like Parlade is barred from holding a civilian post, such as his role in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTC-ELCAC).
Esperon also wants to send a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III. He also wished to consult Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on the matter.
These senators have expressed support for the controversial Anti-Terror Act - which led to the crafting of the NTF-ELCAC— but there have been fears among local and international rights groups that this may be abused by officials.
"May ginagawa akong sulat na dapat kahapon ko matatapos pero dahil may bagong development ibibigay ko 'yon kay Senate president. Dadalhin ko rin yon kay Sen. Bato, dahil hindi siya pumipirma sa call of resignation. May mga kakausapin din akong senador sa sulat tungkol sa subject," Esperon said, adding that the letter won't be publicized.
(I am currently writing a letter. Originally, I planned to finish this yesterday but since there is a new development I will give this to Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III. I will also bring this to Sen. Bato because he did not sign on the call of resignation. I will also talk to other senators about the subject.)
Several senators earlier pushed to defund NTF-ELCAC for 2022 as Parlade accused some community pantry organizers of being communist supporters.
They also urged Malacañang to remove Parlade from the office after he likened a community pantry organizer's efforts to "Satan giving apple to Eve."
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon later released a resolution denouncing Parlade's remarks, with a mix of opposition and pro-administration senators backing the move. Sotto had also urged the national government to defund NTF-ELCAC anew, if they were not going to remove Parlade from the post.
Asked about a timeframe, Esperon, who sits as the NTF-ELCAC vice chair, said his office was more focused on answering the sentiments of senators, adding that they are also pursuing legal remedies to study the matter.
"Wala naman kaming deadline na binigay sa sarili namin. Ang objective namin ay kung paano mabigyan ng karampatang tugon ang sentiments ng senado at sasabihin din namin ang aming tugon dahil parang nadadamay 'yung pondo ng NTF-ELCAC daw," Esperon said.
(We do not have a deadline for ourselves. Our objectives at the moment are centered on how we can promptly answer the sentiments of the Senate. We will eventually give our stance because they are saying that the funds for the NTF-ELCAC are being affected.)