Lawmakers to AFP official: Stop 'red-tagging' celebrities, others who speak up on women's issues

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — Two lawmakers have called out a general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for supposedly “red-tagging” celebrities and other popular figures.

Senator Risa Hontiveros slammed Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade’s "threats and harassment” on celebrities advocating women’s rights. Parlade, who is commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, is also part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC),

“Huwag mong gamitin ang kapangyarihan mo bilang heneral upang takutin at pagbantaan ang mga kababaihang ito." the senator told Parlade in a statement.

[Translation: Don’t use your position as a general to scare and threaten these women.]

“Your threats and harassment are unacceptable," Hontiveros said. "By silencing them, pinapalampas mo ang karahasan, panggagahasa at pang-aabuso na nararanasan ng napakaraming Pilipino (By silencing them, you are tolerating the violence, rape, and abuse being experienced by many Filipinos). This is a shame to your rank and to the PMA.”

Meanwhile, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas also criticized Parlade after he warned actress Liza Soberano against working with Gabriela Youth.

"Liza Soberano, there's still a chance to abdicate the group," said Lt.. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., adding that she could suffer the same fate as Josephine Lapira, a Gabriela Youth member who died in an encounter with armed authorities three years ago.

Soberano appeared as a guest at one of the Gabriela's events.

"Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade's appeal to stop red-tagging Liza Soberano is starkly ironic because he actually red-tagged Soberano in his same statement. By saying that Soberano is 'not yet an NPA,' he is maliciously associating the actress with the armed movement when what she did in the youth forum was to only speak up for all the victims of gender-based violence and abuse," she said.

Brosas accused Parlade and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, of which he is spokesman, of being "trolls" who are red tagging celebrities and other popular figures who speak up on women's issues.

"How come these macho-fascists have the audacity to mansplain strong women and lecture them on what to do? And why do they seem so afraid of women using their platform to defend other women?" she said.

Atty. Juanito Lim Jr., counsel for Soberano, said they denounced her being red tagged, adding the actress was "apolitical" and "does not support nor antagonize any person's political views."

"Expressing her love and respect for women and children is her personal advocacy," Lim said in the statement.

Soberano has also earned praise from Senator Kiko Pangilinan, who said she did not deserve the threats she received.

In a statement, Pangilinan called on the police and the military, especially high-ranking authorities, to stop labelling and red-tagging those who responsibly air their views about Philippine society.

Meanwhile, Parlade also received scorn from another lawmaker, House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, who called the military official was "at it again, red tagging anyone who works or espousing the same cause and issues of progressive groups."

In his regular briefing on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the statement was only meant to be a remider against being used by the left.

"Ang issue po, 'yung posibleng pagsasamantala ng mga komunista sa mga adbokasiya ng mga personalidad gaya ni Liza at ni Catriona (Gray),' he said.

[Translation: The issue is that communists might take advantage of the advocacies of personalities like Liza and Catriona.]

However, he said the Palace had no problem with what either had to say as the President has always pushed for women's rights as shown by his track record especially when he was still mayor of Davao City.

Apart from Soberano, Parlade also gave a similar warning to Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray while red-tagging the sister of actress Angel Locsin, Ella Colmenares. He alleged that Locsin's sibling is working with the New People's Army in Quezon.

Colmenares responded to Parlade’s accusation, saying she has nothing to defend about herself.

“I do not have to defend myself as I have not done anything wrong but I decided to speak up, not just for myself but also for my children, whose lives may have been endangered because of this reckless red-tagging being broadcasted on social media,” she said on Twitter.

Doing job

In response to the criticisms of the two lawmakers, Parlade emphasized that he is just doing his job as part of the government.

“Liza Soberano's desire to defend women's rights, is also shared by the senator and many in the Armed Forces," Parlade said in a Facebook post. "But we differ in the way Gabriela exploits these genuine advocates, because the CPPs [Communist Party of the Philippines] underground ‘Makibaka’, is the one stirring and orchestrating it.”

“It’s your government’s job to expose this duplicitous nature of the CPP, even if you disagree because of your political affiliations,” he added.

Furthermore, Parlade denied that he associated Soberano with the Reds. He also claimed that the actress’ family even thanked him for the information he shared.

“Did I maliciously associate the actress to the NPA?," he asked. "Where did you read that in my statement?”

“The Family of Ms. Soberano through their legal adviser, sent me a personal letter to thank me for the information I shared and helping defend Liza from her bashers,” Parlade added. “So did I red-tagged Liza? No, I did my job to protect her, as I will do with anyone who will be unduly harassed by netizens, especially if it comes from netizens who don't understand much about the dynamics and nature of the CPP revolutionary dual tactics."

This is not the first time Parlade has been accused of red-tagging. In November last year he was kicked out of a forum discussing the "red-tagging" and arrest of dissenters.

He has been known for accusing politicians of colluding with the Communist Party of the Philippines. He also claimed that progressive groups were plotting to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte in a plan known as "Red October" back in 2018.