MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has promised that Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade would be "eased out" from the government's anti-communism panel "shortly before he retires."
Lorenzana gave the statement via a text message on April 27, about a week before the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) designated Parlade as one of the panel's 8 spokesperson, Lacson told reporters in an online press conference.
"Nasa akin pa message ni Sec. Lorenzana. Nag-usap sila ni Sec. Esperon at nag-agree sila na i-ease out nila si Parlade," he said, referring to National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC vice chair Hermogenes Esperon.
(Sec. Lorenzana's message is still with me. He and Sec. Esperon spoke and they agreed to ease out Parlade.)
"Pag nagbitaw kami ng salita sa isa't isa, that's the nexus that binds us together... hindi ko maintindihan bakit hindi nila kaya panghawakan yung binitawan nilang salita," the senator said.
(The words we tell each other, that's the nexus that binds us together... I can't understand why they can't stick with the words they said.)
Several senators have been pushing for Parlade's removal from the anti-communism panel as the Constitution bans active military officials from being appointed in offices that are civilian in nature.
Parlade also drew the ire of lawmakers after he likended a community pantry organizer to Satan and called senators "stupid."
"Hindi ko maintindihan why they are standing their ground na i-retain doon," Lacson said.
(I don't understand why they are sanding their ground to retain him there.)
"Hindi naman nakakatulong. Nakakasama pa yung pronouncements [niya]," he said.
(He's not helping. His pronouncements are even putting them at a disadvantage.)
Paralde has been repeatedly bashed online for accusing several celebrities and lawmakers of being part of the communist movement, without showing evidence to back his claim.
The Senate minority bloc plans to question the need for the NTF-ELCAC to have at least 8 spokespersons, Sen. Pangilinan said in a separate online press conference.
"Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng maraming spokesperson. Sana gamitin na lang yung budget na 'yun para sa ayuda," he said.
(This is the first time that I saw that many spokespersons. I hope they can just use that budget for cash aid.)
"When the budget debates come, we will raise this," he said.
An agency's performance does not depend on the number of its spokesperson, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.
"Pagdating sa budget, simple lang: kapag pangit ang performance, kailangang magpaliwanag ng ahensya kung bakit hindi ito dapat babawasan ng pondo," she said in a statement.
(It's simple when it comes to the budget: If the performance is not good, the agency has to explain why their fund should not be slashed.)
Lacson, who has been defending NTF-ELCAC's budget in recent years, said he would not object to moves to cut the panel's 2022 funding.
"Kapag may nag-push na mag-reduce ng budget, I wouldn't have the same enthusiasm or interest in defending their budget," he said.
(If someone pushes for the reduction of their budget, I wuldn't have the same enthusiasm or interest in defending their budget.)
"If they don't want to listen to us for a simple provision ng Constitution... I myself refuse to listen to them," he said.