Parlade as active military officer can’t hold post in anti-communist task force – Senate
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate recommended on Wednesday the removal of Army Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), a civilian body created by the Duterte administration that has become controversial for “red-tagging” — or painting activists and government critics as supporters of the communist insurgency or terrorist groups.
The recommendation was introduced as an amendment to the Senate national defense and security committee’s report after conducting an inquiry on the issues raised against red-tagging.
Parlade’s appointment to the post, according to the amendment adopted by the chamber, was in violation of Article 16, Section 5 of the Constitution banning any active member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from holding a civilian position in the government.
Parlade also heads the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, making him one of the military’s key officers in the campaign against the decades-old insurgency.
He has drawn criticism for branding several persons — from celebrities and lawmakers to student activists — as sympathizers or supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“Consistent with the aforequoted constitutional provision, we recommend that Lt. Gen. Parlade be immediately relieved of his duties as spokesperson of NTF-Elcac,” the amendment read in part.
“We should prevent the potential conflict between the politics of NTF-Elcac and the mandate of the security sector by engaging a spokesperson who does not hold concurrent mandates in the security forces,” it added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate defense panel, introduced the provision, which was later approved by the body.
Lacson’s committee initially arrived at the conclusion that there was no need to criminalize red-tagging, noting there were enough laws to protect the public from such acts.
But on the prodding of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday, Lacson agreed to allow further discussion on the matter.
“That is why we expressed appreciation to Senator Lacson when he accepted that we should not close the issue by saying that Red-tagging should not be criminalized,” Drilon said.
“We are not saying that it should be criminalized, all we are saying is let us discuss it further,” he said during Tuesday’s session.
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