Lorenzana: Sison himself declared Gabriela an NPA front, but Parlade still warned against red-tagging without proof

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 25) — While left-leaning groups have been associated with communist organizations, the defense secretary says military officials must take extra care when linking personalities to such groups.

Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on Sunday that he had spoken with Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. regarding statements he had made last week concerning actress Liza Soberano's participation in a Gabriela Youth event.

"Gen. Parlade said that what he meant was to warn and caution these celebrities in joining or advocating fronts of the CPP/NP/NDF, which Gabriela is one. Just to be clear we were not the ones who red-tagged them. It was Jose Maria Sison himself who identified them as fronts of the CPP/NP/NDF," he said.

Lorenzana added, "To accuse us (military and police) of red-tagging them in the face of Sison's admission is the height of naïveté."

The defense secretary also said President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order declaring the CPP/NPA/NDF as terrorist organizations.

However, Lorenzana said he has reminded Parlade "from red-tagging anybody without evidence."

"Associating with Gabriela, per se, does not mean a person advocates and supports its ideology. Therefore it is our duty to forewarn them less they fall into a trap," he said. "Meantime, 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."

Parlade came under fire last week after warning Soberano for associating with Gabriela and 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.

Senator Risa Hontiveros called out Parlade for his "threats and harassment" on celebrities advocating women's rights while Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said he was "maliciously" linked the actress to the underground movement when all she did was speak out in the youth forum against "gender-based violence and abuse." 

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Parlade said he meant no harm.

"I don't need to apologize. Why should I apologize? I don't have any intention of hurting Liza Soberano," Parlade told CNN Philippines' The Source on Oct. 23, saying people should read his full statement to understand his point. 

"Definitely, I did not red-tag Liza Soberano. In fact, I came in to defend her position na it's okay to be an activist and to defend women's rights. It's not right that we don't inform Liza Soberano about the nature of Gabriela Youth to which she was engaging with during the webinar," the military official said.