MANILA (UPDATE 2) - The military official who warned Liza Soberano of alleged communist ties of Gabriela Youth on Friday refused to apologize to the actress as he claimed that her camp even thanked him for the information.
"Why should I apologize?," Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of the government's National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said when asked if he will apologize to Soberano.
He said it is incorrect to say that Soberano's lawyer and family were complaining about him for allegedly red-tagging the actress, when they were actually thanking him.
"In fact, I got a message, a call from Atty. (Juanito, Jr.) Lim yesterday, thanking me and informing me that they’re sending a thank you letter to me personally for informing them about the nature of this organization, which they don’t want their client to be associated with," he told ANC's Headstart.
Parlade insisted he "did not red-tag Liza Soberano," and those saying that he did must have gotten the impression through second-hand sources, such as news reports, and not from his original statement.
"I’m not threatening these women. I also have daughters, I have sisters. Ang dami kong kaibigan na mga babae (I have a lot of female friends) and I support that advocacy to defend women’s rights," he said.
"Wala akong ni-red-tag (I did not red-tag anyone). I’m not using, abusing my authority, my position to red-tag these people or harass these women. No, I am supporting their advocacy," he added.
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. "Not yet," he said.
He told her that "there's still a chance to abdicate" Gabriela Youth, otherwise, she "will suffer the same fate" as the likes of Josephine Anne Lapira.
Lapira, a student of the University of the Philippines, was killed in an encounter between the military and the New People's Army in 2017.
Parlade made the statement a week after Soberano joined a Gabriela Youth online forum as one of the special guests discussing issues that girls and young women are facing in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. She tearfully recalled receiving messages of support from fans and even stories of their personal experiences of sexual abuse, after she took to court the rape comment against her.
In a statement Thursday, Soberano’s legal counsel said the actress was merely "expressing her love and respect for women and children" because this is her personal advocacy.
"Ms. Soberano remains to be apolitical. She does not support nor antagonize any person’s political views. The important point here is respect for others, a virtue she has conscientiously practiced all her life," the statement read.
'GABRIELA IS 'PART OF TERRORIST ORGANIZATION''
Parlade said it is the job of the NTF-ELCAC to "educate people about this duplicitous nature" of Gabriela and other organizations under the Makabayan bloc. He said these organizations were identified by Communist Party of the Philippines leader Jose Ma. Sison as his "progressive allies."
"We were not the ones who red-tagged these organizations. Nandiyan 'yan sa website ng (It's in the website of) Philippine Revolutionary Web Central," he said.
Members of Gabriela--which has a party-list group with 2 sitting representatives at Congress--"are communist cadres," said Parlade, adding that one cannot be nominated as representative "if you are not a hard-bearing member."
"It is a fact and they cannot deny it. It’s the CPP who nominates these people, so are they part of the terrorist organization? Yes, definitely. Definitely," he said.
Gabriela Youth, he said, is a "legal front" of communist rebels, with "underground" activities. He cited an incident where 3 members of the group who allegedly died alongside rebels, but did not elaborate further when this was.
"Is that not proof enough that they are a terrorist organization? Tell me. Gabriela, tell me now," she said.
Following the firestorm triggered by Parlade's earlier comments to Soberano, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas told ABS-CBN News: "Hindi terorismo ang paglaban sa abuso (Fighting abuse is not terrorism)."
Under the Human Security Act of 2007, a group can be declared as a "terrorist and outlawed organization" upon application of the Department of Justice before a Regional Trial Court, "with due notice and opportunity to be heard given to the organization, association, or group of persons concerned."
Under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which supplanted the 2007 law, proscription is done by the Court of Appeals upon the application of the DOJ with recommendation from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and authority from the Anti-Terrorism Council.
The recent law's implementing rules and regulations provides for designating persons as "terrorists" and publish their names on newspapers and government websites based on "reasonable ground of suspicion."
Parlade said government is in the process of designating the above organizations as terror groups.