MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed controversial retired military general Antonio Parlade, Jr. as deputy director-general of the National Security Council, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Duterte has "signed the appointment" of Parlade, who retired as head of the military's Southern Luzon Command in July, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
Parlade formerly served as spokesman of the government's anti-communist task force, during which he made headlines for linking several female celebrities, Senate workers, and lawmakers to the communist movement without presenting proof.
He also called senators "stupid" for seeking to defund the task force for red-tagging. Some lawmakers have said the Constitution bars Parlade from holding a civilian post at the task force because he was then an active military member.
"Deputy Director-General Parlade faithfully served the Armed Forces of the Philippines for many years until his retirement from the service," Roque said in a statement.
"We are therefore confident that his length of fruitful service in the military would immensely contribute in the crafting of plans and policies affecting national security," he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said she does not understand why Duterte "is so committed to recycling disgraced officials to new government posts, and rewarding bad behavior among public employees."
She said many other officers "who are not spreading fake news and red-tagging everything from community pantries to celebrities" are qualified for the position given to Parlade.
"I worry that General Parlade's appointment to the National Security Council will only cause national insecurity and instability, given his previous actions," said Hontiveros.
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat echoed the concerns of Hontiveros.
Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, also of Bayan Muna, earlier said Parlade "used and abused his position to attack government critics, spread fake news, and red-tag activists and organizations, [and] he should be held accountable for this."
"The NTF-ELCAC shouldn't also be spared from accountability. They have enabled Paralde's crusade of lies. 'Di sasapat na mag-resign lang si Parlade, dapat ay buwagin na ang grupong iyan na nag-aaksaya lang ng pondo ng bayan," Gaite said in a statement.
(Parlade's resignation will not suffice. That group, which only wastes public funds, should be abolished.)
Some critics earlier said the task force's P19-billion budget should instead be allocated to the government's pandemic response.