MANILA — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday expressed concern on a military official’s stern warning to actress Liza Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray about the groups they were associated with, saying celebrities have the right to express their own convictions and beliefs.
The constitutional body said the remarks of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., an official of the government's National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), were “tantamount to harassment and red-tagging.”
“CHR is deeply concerned with the warning made by Parlade… Coming from a high-ranking military official, such [a] statement is a form of suppression and restriction that serves to dissuade those who speak up for their beliefs and advocacies,” CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said in a statement.
The Commission said the Constitution guarantees every Filipinos’ freedom of thought, expression, and participation.
“All Filipinos, celebrities and everyday folks alike, have the right to express their beliefs and convictions and to participate in activities in line with these beliefs… As a democratic society, everyone has the freedom to advocate and support a cause, free from any intimidation or harassment,” Gana said.
Parlade, in an interview with Teleradyo Thursday, explained he was not intimidating the personalities. Rather, his remarks were meant to prevent them from joining organizations that have alleged underground groups.
He also claimed fighting for women’s rights is valid, but said people should be wary of the organizations they join or engage with, because some have members who are not just activists, but are also rebels involved in encounters with the military.
But CHR reminded military officials to focus on promoting human rights instead of instilling fear and distrust among Filipinos.
“The female celebrities aim to advocate for the rights of women, especially victims of abuse…. Instead of attacking those who seek to empower the voiceless, we are reminding government officials especially the security sector tasked to serve and protect the people to focus on promoting the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the people,” said Gana.
Following Parlade's post on the Facebook page of NTF-ELCAC, Soberano’s legal counsel, Jun Lim, denounced the red-tagging on social media, saying the actress remains apolitical.
Several public officials have also condemned the military official, saying his remarks were uncalled for.