CHR airs concern over Parlade remarks, threat vs journo
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday expressed concern over Army Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.’s threat to possibly apply the Anti-Terrorism Act against a journalist who reported on a petition against the law in the Supreme Court.
CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia was reacting to Parlade’s social media posts against INQUIRER.net reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas over a story on two Aetas who filed a petition before the Supreme Court against the antiterror law.
“The Commission on Human Rights continues to note and express concern over the ongoing threats to the country’s civic space, particularly the recent red tagging and threat to sue journalist Tetch Torres-Tupas over a report on an alleged torture of Aetas who were said to be members of the New People’s Army and a possible overreach of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” de Guia said in a statement.
De Guia pointed out that in 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also stressed concerns over “what appears to be ‘a pattern of intimidation’ of independent news sources,” further aggravated by practices of red tagging and filing of legal cases against journalists.
“Since then, the Philippine government has committed to improve the human rights situation on the ground, yet such practices continue to persist. It is even more concerning that similar pronouncements come from government officials and representatives—further aggravating the compounding human rights challenges on the ground,” de Guia said.
De Guia reminded the Philippine government of its human rights commitments and inherent obligations, saying that “[m]ore than reiteration of promises, government must put words into action.”
“At the same time, in the face of the continuing challenges to free speech and expression, we also stress the importance of discourse and guarantee of protected rights,” De Guia said.
“CHR condemns any attempt to use laws to curtail rights, as we are equally vigilant against assertions of freedoms that infringe upon the rights of others,” the CHR spokesperson added.
Asked to comment on the groups’ demand for a public apology for his baseless allegations against Tupas, Parlade told the Inquirer: “Lahat ba kayo nagsulat ng Aeta complaint na fake? Lahat kayo mag explain dapat. (Did you all write about that Aetas’ fake complaint? All of you should do some explaining.)”
“Is the media trying to influence the magistrate (sic) hearing the petitions by peddling news which they already know to be fake?” he asked.
Parlade added: “The AFP has been denying that report already, ever since, because it never happened. It’s being reported abroad and is besmirching the image of the country not only the AFP.”
Newly-designated Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana earlier said the military will not hurt anyone except those identified as enemies of the state.
He added that the military should look back at the “erroneous things that we committed and we should learn from that.”
“We should not hurt anybody unless he is an enemy of the state so we have to really identify the enemies of the state as what I have said so that walang collateral damage. Rest assured, magiging deliberate kami sa aming ginagawa,” Sobejana said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
Sobejana did not directly respond to the query on whether he treated the Inquirer reporter as “enemy of the state” but he made sure that they would exercise due diligence in their operations.
“Not necessarily investigate Parlade’s statement, we have to investigate or validate about the involvement of anybody, not necessarily Inquirer, but it applies to all. As what I have said, we exercise due diligence,” the military official said.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct an investigation on the Parlade incident.
“That’s why I have directed the chief of staff to talk to him again about this. We may be able to prevent this from happening in the future,” Lorenzana said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday.
“Maybe he overstepped what he was doing. I’m going to let the chief of staff deal with him. Sila muna mag-usap how to address this concern from a journalist and the media about these accusations by Gen. Parlade,” he added.
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