In Parlade probe, AFP also looking into journalist’s alleged terror links – Sobejana

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 10) — The investigation on Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.’s social media posts red-tagging a news reporter will also determine whether the journalist is indeed a supporter of terrorist groups, the Armed Forces chief said Wednesday.

Tama si Gen. Parlade na walang nangyayaring torture among the Aetas sa Zambales,” Lt. Gen. CIrilito Sobejana said in a media interview. “Ang hindi pa natin mapatunayan 'yung pag-tag ni Gen. Parlade kay Ma’am Tupas na siya ay supporter ng teroristang grupo," he said.

[Translation: Gen. Parlade is right that there was no torture among the Aetas in Zambales…What we haven’t proven yet is Gen. Parlade’s tagging of Ma’am Tupas as a terrorist group supporter.]

Sobejana referred to the petition filed by Aetas Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos to intervene in the legal challenge against the Anti-Terrorism Act. They said they were tortured by soldiers and falsely charged under the new law, when they were only trying to avoid being caught in the crossfire during a clash between government forces and members of the New People’s Army in Zambales in August.

Sobejana said the Supreme Court's dismissal of the Aetas' petition proved that the allegations were false. The high court has yet to release its resolution, but its public information office said the Aetas’ petition was junked “because there is already a pending case before the trial court.”

The petition became even more controversial after Parlade called the reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas, one of those who wrote about the petition, a "propagandist" and said she could be held liable under the law for "aiding the terrorists by spreading lies."

Members of the Justice and Court Reporters Association, of which Torres-Tupas is a member, said they also reported on the petition based on the same Supreme Court pleading. But Parlade accused Torres-Tupas of using as reference “propaganda machines” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which the executive Anti-Terrorism Council designated as a terrorist organization.

READ: Lawyers, journalists call out Parlade comment vs. reporter as 'credible threat' under anti-terrorism law

"If this reporter, according to the general, can be charged for aiding the terrorists, an act punishable under Section 12 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, does it mean that the other reporters who wrote the same story are supporters of terrorists as well?" Torres-Tupas wrote on Tuesday.

The AFP’s provost marshal general, which probes offenses committed by military personnel, is investigating Parlade’s online comments against Torres-Tupas.

Sobejana said Parlade's allegations against the journalist cannot be simply dismissed. When asked if that means Torres-Tupas is also under investigation, Sobejana said that is part of establishing the facts.

Hindi rin natin ma-discount pa or ma-drop 'yung possibility na — kasi sinulat nga, e (We also cannot discount or drop the possibility -– because she wrote about it). Kung, if you write something, meron ka ring…it is a dictate of your emotions, or your sympathy or whatever,” Sobejana said.

He said Parlade has the burden to prove that Torres-Tupas is a terrorist supporter. If proven true, the journalist would have the “burden of denial.”

Sobejana said that although Parlade is chief of the Southern Luzon Command, he is also spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. The provost marshal has reached out to the NTF-ELCAC to find out whether Parlade’s actions could be part of a “strategic communication plan,” he added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier told CNN Philippines’ The Source that he has ordered an investigation on Parlade, recognizing that the general may have “overstepped” in his remarks against Torres-Tupas. “We will investigate, and find out if he deserves to be punished, if disciplinary action will be imposed upon him,” he said.

On Wednesday, Sobejana recognized that what Parlade did could be against the Armed Forces rules on the use of social media, but refused to speculate on possible sanction against the military official. He also advised Parlade and Torres-Tupas to meet to settle the issue.