MANILA – Celebrities advocating various causes should be allowed to express their views without restraint, a top government official said Monday, amid growing concern over the continuous red-tagging by some officials.
Angel Locsin, Catriona Gray and Liza Soberano, who have been vocal on social issues including the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, should not be linked with the Reds, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
“These personalities, they want change. They're fighting issues for women, for certain sector but it doesn't mean they are already terrorists. Hayaan natin silang makapag-express nang malaya (Let them express freely),” he told TeleRadyo.
“We shall make sure these personalities are respected,” added Año who also oversees the Philippine National Police (PNP).
This, after a military official from an anti-insurgency task force warned Soberano she could end up getting killed if the actress continued supporting the women’s group Gabriela, which he accused of being involved in the communist insurgency.
“Liza Soberano, there's still a chance to abdicate that group. If you don't, you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira,” Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. had said in a statement.
Lapira, a University of the Philippines-Manila student, was killed in an encounter between state forces and suspected members of New People’s Army (NPA) in Nasugbu, Batangas in November 2017.
Parlade made the same threat to Gray, and also alleged that Locsin’s sister was involved in the underground movement.
However, Año clarified that Parlade was only forewarning the celebrities as some organizations were being used to recruit members for the communist movement.
“Ginagamit ‘yung organizations para makapag-recruit at maging armadong miyembro. Hindi natin ilalahat,” he said.
(Some organizations are being used to recruit combatant members. But not all are involved.)
“’Yung mga activism, okay ‘yan. Walang problema tayo diyan. (Activism is fine. We don’t have a problem with that.) We need that for the change and improvement of government services.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had cautioned Parlade from "red-tagging anybody without evidence," and said that "associating with Gabriela per se does not mean a person advocates and supports its ideology."
"I directed Gen Parlade to continue what he is doing with some caveats so as not to unnecessarily include or accuse innocent people who are well meaning and want to do good things for others," Lorenzana said on Sunday.