MANILA— A lawmaker on Saturday defended celebrities speaking out as advocates of women and human rights, saying the move to vilify them only promotes war and conflict.
In an interview on TeleRadyo, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas clarified that Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray are not their members, in light of a general's recent statements linking them to rebel and underground activities.
“Advocates sila ng women’s rights, defender sila ng human rights. Nakakaigi sa atin kasi mga platforms nila malawak nararating and when they speak, pinapakinggan sila lalong-lalo na ng mga kabataan, lalong-lalo na 'yung hindi natin naabot. Mahalaga po sila,” said Brosas.
(They are advocates of women’s rights, defenders of human rights. It helps that their platforms have wider reach and when they speak, people, especially the youth listen to them. They are important.)
In a statement posted on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Facebook page Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said Soberano "is not an NPA" (New People's Army) because she was simply advocating for women's rights. He, however, said: "Not yet."
The 22-year old actress had appeared on a webinar with the youth arm of Gabriela as guest to speaker in “Mga Tinig ni Nene: Reclaiming Our Voice on the International Day of the Girl Child.”
“Imagine si Liza Soberano was talking about abuses against women. She was talking about the experiences on rape and sexual harassment. Ito pa lang parang mayroong paranoia na 'yung accusation ni general at nagsasabi na siya ng kung ano ano,” Brosas said.
(There seems to be paranoia in the General’s accusation.)
The lawmaker also stressed that Gabriela is not a communist front and they are not members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist party.
“Hindi po kami NPA, lagi nga naming sinasabi 'yan. Ang laging accusation sa amin sinasabi nila na communist front daw at palagi din naman naming sinasabing hindi. Dekada dekada na po 'yung track record ng Gabriela Women’s Party sa paglilingkod na alam na alam ng lahat ng mamamayan natin,” she said.
(We are not NPA, we always say this. They always accuse us of being a communist front and we always say that were not. Our track record would show that we have been serving for decades and the people know this.)
Brosas lamented that public funds were being used to red-tag ordinary citizens to prevent them from speaking out.
“Ang nangyayari, bini-villify ka muna publicly, shini-shame ka, tine-threaten ka kahit alam mo Constitutional and basic rights mo, human rights violation ginagawa nila,” she said.
(What happens is they vilify you publicly, shame you, threaten you even if you know you are within your Constitutional and basic rights.)
The NTF-ELCAC’s budget allocation for 2021, she said, is P19-billion, and these are allegedly being used to fund such kinds of operation.
“Ang gustong patunguhan is to vilify 'yung mga personalities at saka 'yung mga groups and organizations, technically i-state-terrorize 'yung mga tao. To stop them, intimidate them, hindi sila makapagsalita,” she said.
(They vilify personalities, groups and organization, technically state terrorize the people to stop them, intimidate them from talking.)
She added, “tingin natin dito nagpapa-escalate ng war and conflict, nili-link lahat.”
(They are trying to link everyone and we believe this only escalates war and conflict.)