Southern Luzon military chief denies red tagging journalists, activists, students

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2020 09:54 PM

Southern Luzon military chief denies red tagging journalists, activists, students 1
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) Chief Major General Antonio Parlade Jr., appears before the hybrid deliberation of the Committee on National Defense of the Commission on Appointments on August 24, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB

MANILA - A military official in Southern Luzon on Monday denied that he has been labelling several activists and journalists as communist insurgents.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. belied accusations that he has "caused undue injury" to any party and "engaged directly or indirectly in any partisan political activity" by red tagging students, activists and journalists.

"It is the duty of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to inform the people about the activities of these organizations," Parlade told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing.

While activists are "welcome" in a "robust democratic society," several legitimate groups have been included in the list of organizations who recognize Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison as their chairperson, the military official said.

"We are confident when we say, 'This is a terrorist, this is a terrorist organization," Parlade said.

"It's like saying in this room, be careful of that guy because he is a thief and we have proof that he stole things," he said.

"This is not destroying their organization, their reputation... We have proof," he said.

Parlade also belied Sen. Risa Hontiveros' allegation that he identified journalists Maria Ressa and Glenda Gloria as communists after their news organization Rappler published articles critical of the government.

"I vehemently deny that I identified Ressa and Rappler as a terrorist organization," he said.

"I did not tag anyone as a communist. I never said that Glenda Gloria was a communist," he said.

"I was just saying that her lines are way off, her comments cannot be accepted by the AFP," he said.

Parlade said the military must remain non-partisan, but politically-aware to "engage in a healthy political discourse."

"We should understand how the CPP-NPA has been playing dual tactics to destroy our institutions," he said.

The military is also shifting its attention on addressing communist propaganda machineries, instead of focusing solely on tactical operations.

"The Philippines did not address the propaganda of the enemy thats why we are still here," he said.

"Your AFP today is more professional. We understand the dynamics," he said.

"If they happen to be part of that machinery, then we will destroy it," he said.

The Commission on Appointments has approved Parlade's appointment as lieutenant general.