MANILA — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday came to the defense of the lower chamber's progressive Makabayan bloc following an intensified terrorist tagging of a military official.
In a statement, Velasco cautioned Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. against red-tagging members of the House of Representatives, saying the act "endangers the lives of these duly-elected officials."
"General Parlade should be more circumspect and cautious in issuing statements against House members whose lives he may place at great risk and danger sans strong evidence... [T]hese lawmakers are duly elected representatives of the people, and implicating them on issues that have yet to be substantiated is uncalled for," Velasco 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.
Earlier, House Minority Leader Rep. Joseph Paduano urged the House leadership to defend the Makabayan bloc from Parlade's terrorist tagging.
Velasco said as Speaker, it was his mandate to "protect" members of the chamber from "careless accusations" that put them in danger.
"As Speaker of the House, I am duty-bound to protect them from potential harm due to these careless accusations so that they may carry their legal and constitutional mandate as members of Congress," Velasco said.
"If he has evidence, gather them and go to court, and not to the media," he added.
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.