Senate recommends Parlade’s removal from anti-insurgency task force post
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has recommended the immediate relief of Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. from his duty as spokesperson of the Duterte’s administration’s anti-insurgency task force.
This, after the chamber adopted the amended committee report of the Senate defense panel on its investigation into the alleged red-tagging by military officials.
Among the approved amendments to the report include the recommendation of Parlade’s removal as National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) due to his designation being a violation of the Constitution.
Article 16, Section 5, Paragraph 4 of the Constitution states that “no member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in active service shall at any time be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government.”
“Consistent with the aforementioned constitutional provision and as a matter of policy, we recommend that Lt. Gen. Parlade be immediately relieved of his duties as spokesperson of the NTF-Elcac,” the amendment reads.
“We should prevent the potential conflict between the policies of the NTF-Elcac and the mandate of the security sector by engaging a spokesperson who does not hold concurrent mandates in the security forces. This should be a prerequisite for a Spokesperson in the faithful performance of his official duty,” it added.
It was Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon who first questioned Parlade’s designation as NTF-Elcac spokesperson when the latter is still an active military officer.
Before the committee report was adopted, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III inquired if the constitutional provision that prohibited active AFP officers from assuming civilian positions indeed covers Parlade’s designation.
“The constitutional provision, particularly Article 16, Section 5, Paragraph 4, is very clear on the matter,” Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairperson of the defense panel, said in response.
“Yes, the constitutional provision applies in this particular case because NTF-Elcac is not a task force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines but a civilian task force,” he added.
The committee report said there is no longer a need to criminalize Red-tagging as legal remedies against it are “sufficient” under existing laws, which aggrieved persons can make use of.
Nevertheless, an amendment was adopted to the report stating that the committee’s views “does not preclude” any appropriate Senate panel from studying and considering bills proposing to criminalize Red-tagging.
The committee’s investigation, conducted late last year, was triggered by a Facebook post from Parlade implying that actress Liza Soberano had been recruited by communist rebels when she communicated with Gabriela Women’s party-list group, which the military had tagged as a communist front organization.
In its report, the committee found that the “undue public propaganda” caused by Parlade’s controversial pronouncements is “damaging” to the integrity of the Duterte administration’s anti-insurgency task force as well as the AFP.
The panel also advised the government’s security forces to “refrain from publicly vilifying, labeling and imputing guilt by association to the communist group various institutions and progressive organizations based on false or unverified information.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.