MANILA — The newly-installed minority leader of the House of Representatives defended Monday the members of Makabayan bloc after they were accused by military officials of being "fronts" of the armed communist movement.
In a statement, House minority leader Joseph Paduano told Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. to "shut up" if he does not have evidence against the Makabayan lawmakers.
"He sounds like a loose cannon, and his words can do more harm than good to the government's anti-insurgency efforts... He better file a case in court or shut up if he has no evidence to show," Paduano said.
Parlade is the commander of the Southern Luzon Command and spokesperson of the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) which is accused of red-tagging activists and government dissenters.
He recently made headlines after "warning" Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and actress Liza Soberano over their supposed links to Gabriela, a women's rights group which he claimed to be a front of the communist movement.
Parlade later made the same accusations against other members of the Makabayan bloc.
Paduano said he expects the entire House to take action on the issue.
"Unless hard evidence is presented against any member of the House, it is the duty of the entire institution to defend any lawmaker against baseless attacks... We cannot simply ignore claims of harassment, especially if it involves our colleagues," he said.
The Makabayan Bloc is made up of Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat; ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.
They are members of the House minority bloc led by Paduano.
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