MANILA — The country’s defense chief on Friday said he would meet with the military official who warned celebrities on being associated with leftist groups, as well as with several officials from the country’s anti-insurgency task force to address the issue of red-tagging that he said has gone out of hand.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said officials such as Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. of the government's National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) should not loosely tag anyone as a local terrorist without any proof.
“Kung wala kang ebidensya do not talk about it, ‘wag kang magpunta sa media or Facebook, so I’m convening a meeting with these people… si Gen. Parlade, (National Security Adviser) Hermogenes Esperon, saka ‘yong member ng ELCAC because of this brouhaha na lumalaki,” Lorenzana, also a former general, said in an interview outside the Philippine Army headquarters.
(If you do not have evidence on that person, don’t talk about it. Don’t go to the media or Facebook…. So I will meet with these people because of this brouhaha that got out of hand.)
He explained Esperon would be in the meeting as he is the vice chairman of NTF-ELCAC.
The meeting will address the issue of red-tagging of celebrities, among others, and how best to address local terrorism.
He said officials should have evidence when they accuse people of being a local terrorist. Otherwise, they should just keep quiet.
“I think we would talk… kung ano ba talaga ang magandang gawin, although ELCAC is a very good idea, pero kung minsan e hindi mo naman puwedeng, lahat na, ‘yong shotgun kang ganun na everybody. So be selective and dapat may ebidensya tayo,” the defense secretary said.
(We will discuss what’s the best way to address [insurgency]... but sometimes it’s not encouraged [for officials to] just accuse anyone shotgun, accusing everybody. So be selective and we have to have evidence.)
“Huwag mong sabihin na leftist 'yan, o NPA 'yan, dapat may ebidensya tayo kung ano 'yun, otherwise just keep quiet,” he added.
(Don’t accuse someone as leftist or a member of the NPA. We should have evidence.)
AFP chief defends Parlade
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gilbert Gapay, meanwhile, said Parlade’s statements were in line with the mandate of the military in protecting institutions from local terrorists such as the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“It's in line with ‘yong programa ng AFP on really shielding and protecting certain institutions, particularly ‘yong mga vulnerable ones from the recruitment of the CPP-NPA. Totoo naman kasi ‘to dahil we have encountered on many occasions ano at sadly 'yung iba naman namatay pa,” Gapay said.
(It’s in line with AFP’s program… to protect the vulnerable from the recruitment of CPP-NPA. The accusations are true because we encountered this on so many occasions and sadly, some recruits died.)
Gapay also echoed Parlade’s sentiments, saying the military official just did his part in warning vulnerable students and young people against insurgents.
“Ito namang statement ni Gen. Parlade is just a reminder to all that, kasi anybody can be victims, anybody from all walks of life… of course the vulnerable ones, ‘yong dun sa mga remote areas, even here in… urban centers, universities and schools, marami. Marami tayong ano dyan [pieces of evidence] and incidents of NPA recruitment,” he said.
(Gen. Parlade just issued a reminder because anybody could be victims… Most especially in the remote areas… We have a lot of evidence.)
The AFP chief said they are upholding everyone’s basic rights to free speech. What he is against, he said, is when people resort to extremism and violence.
He added that he sees nothing wrong that actress Liza Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray were advocating for women’s rights. But according to him, there’s also a possibility that personalities could be used for propaganda.
“[What makes] them thrive is their propaganda ano, na this is for the greater good, okay naman talaga eh, but, okay lang 'yan if just don’t bear arms, don't resort to violence, we're a democratic country here and we really, we also uphold itong liberty, ating basic rights and liberties to speak up,” he said.
(They thrive on propaganda, by saying this is for the greater good. Advocacies are okay but don’t bear arms.)
He blamed leftist groups for the red-tagging, claiming they are the reason why the issue grew and went out of hand.
“It’s not in any way red-tagging… and actually red-tagging galing sa CPP-NPA ‘yan e... sa kanila nanggaling 'yun, so walang red-tagging dun, ang sa amin lang naman is this is [our] job to shield and protect communities and our people in general.”
(CPP-NPA were the ones who said these personalities were red-tagged. We never red-tagged anyone. We’re just doing our job.)
In a statement posted on the NTF-ELCAC Facebook page Wednesday, Parlade said Soberano "is not an NPA" because she was simply advocating for women's rights. He, however, said: "Not yet."
His statement is tantamount to harassment and red-tagging, according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The CHR also reminded military officials to focus on promoting human rights instead of instilling fear and distrust among Filipinos.
Several public officials have also condemned the military official, saying his remarks were uncalled for.