Drilon questions validity of Parlade’s being anti-insurgency task force spokesman
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned on Wednesday the validity of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.’s designation as spokesperson of the Duterte administration’s anti-insurgency task force while still an active military officer, saying this could be unconstitutional.
Drilon cited Article 16, Section 5, Paragraph 4 of the Constitution which states that “no member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in active service shall at any time be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government.”
To rectify this apparent violation of the Constitution, Drilon said Parlade, who is also the AFP Southern Luzon command chief, should no longer serve as the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
Drilon, a former justice secretary, raised this point during Wednesday’s plenary session as the chamber tackled the committee report of the Senate defense panel on its investigation into the alleged red-tagging by military officials.
The probe, which was conducted late last year, was triggered by a Facebook post by Parlade implying that actress Liza Soberano had been recruited by communist rebels when she communicated with Gabriela Women’s party-list group, which he had tagged as a communist front.
“I would like to think that the sponsor will agree that the designation as a spokesperson not only poses problems on his personality but also could be questioned on the ground that we are designating an active military officer in a purely civilian office which is prohibited under the Constitution,” Drilon said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the committee, agreed with Drilon, noting that the committee report included a recommendation that Parlade “should not be holding two positions” in the NTF-Elcac as well as in the AFP.
“Simply because there might be some confusion and whatever he says as spokesperson of the NTF-Elcac necessarily reflects on his superiors in the AFP, if not the AFP itself,” Lacson said.
He added that the panel report recommended that the NTF-Elcac engage a spokesperson not holding concurrent positions in the security sector to prevent a “potential conflict” in policies.
But Lacson noted that there had been instances in the past when several active military and police officers held concurrent positions in some civilian entities.
“Maybe it’s only a matter of questioning it before the Supreme Court and the Constitution is quite clear,” he said.
“It is our position that after we adopt this committee report, then we should send a copy to the chief-of-staff of the AFP as well as to the Secretary of National Defense so this violation of the Constitution should be rectified,” he added.
Drilon concurred with Lacson, saying: “We submit that the suggested rectification should be part of the report. I would like to think that the rectification would be that Gen. Parlade should no longer be the spokesperson of the NTF-Elcac because that designation is of doubtful validity.”
“We should include that as an amendment or as a recommendation of the chamber when we send out the report,” he added.
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