Parlade dares Makabayan bloc to debate over Red tags, NTF-ELCAC budget
LUCENA CITY – Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., commander of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), on Sunday challenged members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives to a debate over the issue of Red-tagging and the controversial P16.44 billion budget allocated for the government’s counter-insurgency program.
“So, mga kagalang galang na representante ng CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) NPA (New People’s Army), are we on for a bare-all debate on this Red-tagging issue and the NTF-ELCAC budget?” Parlade, who is also spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said in a statement sent to the Inquirer by Lt. Colonel Dennis Cana, Solcom public information officer.
Parlade, also the NTF-ELCAC spokesperson, said: “How difficult is that if you say you are not communists? Let’s end this hypocrisy now, with or without budget.”
“We have been challenging you for a debate even before the creation of the NTF ELCAC. What do you stand to lose if you take the challenge? Let’s pursue the truth behind all your attacks and oppositions to NTF ELCAC,” he added.
The House’s Makabayan bloc includes Bayan Muna party-list representatives Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Isagani Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite; Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
The Makabayan bloc and the NTF-ELCAC have clashed over several issues, at the center of which is the issue of some lawmakers being red-tagged — or accused of being involved with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
Parlade denied that it was the government who tagged the Makabayan bloc as alleged members of the CPP-NPA.
“You have all been tagged as Red by your fellow Red,” he claimed.
He added: “So if you have been exposed and now feel threatened, don’t blame us and don’t put on hostage our agencies budget.”
The leftist solons have called for the removal of the P16.44 billion budget allocated for a anti-communist insurgency program amid their claims that it may be used as the President’s and military officials’ pork barrel.
The Makabayan bloc also raised concerns that the funds might be used for the upcoming 2022 national elections.
Parlade defended the budget and insisted that it will be used to provide services to the marginalized sectors “you have exploited, so we can end insurgency and conflict”.
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