State surveillance of lawmakers is unconstitutional – Makabayan
MANILA, Philippines — Government surveillance of Makabayan bloc members in the House of Representatives, as admitted by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., is unconstitutional, according to a statement that the coalition issued on Monday.
Even under the Anti-Terrorism Law, which revised the Human Security Act, surveillance is only allowed with court approval, Rep. Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela party-list said on Monday, echoing the sentiments of Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares.
Brosas was reacting to a statement by Parlade that Colmenares was under surveillance, along with other members of the Makabayan bloc.
Parlade is the commander of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Insurgency (NTF-ELCAC).
“This is illegal and a violation of our constitutional right to privacy,” Brosas said.
The government claims to have no budget for aid for those badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and for health services, she pointed out. And yet it had money to go after activists.
“Instead of wasting people’s funds on surveillance of activists, the government should rechannel intelligence funds to disease surveillance, health measures, and cash aid,” she said.
In a statement, the Makabayan bloc said the surveillance might be a form of retaliation on its members.
“The generals sitting at the leadership of the NTF-ELCAC now are seething with rage because the generals’ pork in the NTF-ELCAC was exposed to the public and they are hitting back at our bloc for doing so,” Makabayan said.
“This P19.1 billion generals’ pork will put to shame even the millions the generals and their cohorts get from fake arrests and fake surrenderees under various programs like the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP,” it added.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s “Teleradyo,” Parlade said Colmenares and other Makabayan bloc lawmakers were under surveillance for their ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).
Parlade’s alleged red-tagging became an issue when he gave unsolicited advice to actress Liza Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, urging them to distance themselves from the Gabriela Women’s party-list. While Parlade said he gave the advice out of concern, but critics of the government viewed it as a veiled threat.
Soberano came under fire from administration supporters after she joined an online forum hosted by Gabriela about safe spaces for women and other women’s rights issues.
Parlade said that it was not right to red-tag Soberano as she was not a New People’s Army member “yet.” He said that Colmenares and his cousin, actress Angel Locsin, would not tell Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray about the truth behind Ella Colmenares — Locsin’s sister — whom he claimed to be an NPA member.
Recently, Parlade also drew flak after he asked Manila Mayor Isko Moreno whether he was welcoming alleged NPA terrorists into the national capital. This was after Moreno ordered the removal from his city of tarpaulin signs declaring as persona non grata anyone who belonged to the CPP, NPA, and the National Democratic Front.
Earlier, House Minority Floor Leader Stephen Paduano urged Parlade to file cases against those he accused of being communists or communist supporters. Otherwise, he said, Parlade should just heed the advice of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to keep quiet.
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