Lorenzana to order military to probe Parlade’s ‘mistakes’
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday that he would order the military to investigate possible “mistakes” committed by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., chief of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom).
Lorenzana was referring to Parlade’s posts on social media accusing Inquirer.net reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas of being a “propagandist” and implying that she was “aiding terrorists” who might be sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
This was after Tupas wrote about the petition submitted to the Supreme Court by two Aetas who claimed that they were tortured by the military into admitting they were members of the New People’s Army. The petition was among several filed in the high court to declare the antiterrorism law unconstitutional.
“We will investigate and find out if he deserves to be punished, [or if] disciplinary action will be imposed upon him,” Lorenzana said in an interview on CNN Philippines. “We will direct the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to do some investigation and inquiry to prove, to find out if he really made some mistake there.”
But Lorenzana said Parlade told him the Aetas’ claims were false, adding, “I think they have depositions from the community to prove that it did not happen. So his request is for the journalist also to publish the other side, not just one side.”
“I’m going to let the AFP chief of staff [Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana] deal with him. They should talk on how to address this concern from the journalist and from the media about these accusations by Lt. Gen. Parlade,” Lorenzana said.
Sobejana, however, had said that since Parlade posted his accusations against Tupas as the spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) and not as Solcom chief, the AFP could not take action against him.
Sought for comment last week, Parlade told the Inquirer that he was not picking on Tupas. “We just have to be fair. What she’s covering is very critical and she should know the left is really bent on fighting that law,” he said, referring to the terror law.
“There’s a thin line between freedom of expression and aiding terrorists so let us also look at that because Lieutenant General Parlade is pitiful in that he’s being accused when in fact what he’s saying could be right,” Lorenzana said although he added that he also understood why Tupas felt threatened by Parlade’s posts.
“We’ll study that. We will talk to him closely and that’s why I have directed [Sobejana] to talk to him again about this so that we may be able to prevent this from happening in the future,” he said.
The Commission on Human Rights spokesperson, however, said using existing laws to threaten perceived enemies was a possible violation of people’s rights. — With a report from Krixia Subingsubing INQ
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