MANILA — The military official that served as a spokesperson of the controversial anti-insurgency task force of the government should not be accorded a "graceful exit," according to a human rights group, as it moved to block his retirement later this month.
In a letter to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), human rights alliance Karapatan urged the government body to withhold clearances for the retirement of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.
Parlade, commander of the Southern Luzon Command and former spokesperson of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), will reach the mandatory age of retirement on July 26 when he turns 56.
The military official made headlines over the past year for remarks he issued against some groups and personalities due to their alleged links to the communist movement in the country.
According to Karapatan, Parlade "deserves no graceful exit" for his "rabid" red tagging that endangered the lives of several individuals.
"A rabid red-tagger like Antonio Parlade Jr. deserves no graceful exit... Allowing Parlade to walk away scot-free amid the pending cases against him... would be tantamount to impunity. We ask the CHR to withhold clearances for Parlade," Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.
Parlade is among the respondents in the criminal and administrative complaints filed by several human rights groups before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Karapatan on Friday said it submitted a letter to CHR chairperson Chito Gascon asking the body "to withhold clearances for Parlade," citing a provision in the CHR’s Citizen’s Handbook.
"[A]ccording to the CHR’s Citizen’s Handbook, the Commission holds the function and mandate to issue clearances to military or police officers, among others, regarding their records of human rights violations or those with pending resolution of human rights violations," the letter said.
Palabay told ABS-CBN News they have yet to receive a notice of hearing from the Office of the Ombudsman. They filed the complaint against Parlade in December 2020.
In a statement sent to ABS-CBN News, CHR deputy spokesperson Marc Louis Siapno explained that their capacity to issue clearances to security personnel is limited to "purposes of training, schooling or deployment overseas with international partners, as well as for promotions and confirmation within the armed services."
"[T]he CHR clearance procedure has not thus far been included as a mandatory requirement by the security sector for retirement purposes," Siapno said.
Page 11 of the CHR's Citizen's Charter said "[c]ertifications are issued for their promotions, nominations, confirmations, schooling (both local and abroad), as requirement for their United Nations Mission, travel abroad, retirement and other similar purposes."
Siapno said the CHR now wants to expand the coverage of their clearance powers.
"For this purpose, we encourage expansion of the clearance procedure to cover areas that will ensure compliance with the highest human rights standards for all duty-bearers."