Parlade’s social media posts an exercise of freedom of expression – gov’t lawyer
MANILA, Philippines — Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), is exercising his freedom of speech when he “red-tagged” several groups and individuals as having ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) or the New People’s Army (NPA).
Assistant Solicitor-General Marissa de la Cruz-Galandines made this point on Tuesday during the oral arguments over petitions filed at the Supreme Court seeking the nullification of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Parlade, who is the commander of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has made several social media posts accusing celebrities, journalists, community pantry organizers, advocacy groups of having ties with the communist.
He also issued a statement against the petitioners. The fact was raised to the Supreme Court by retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and retired Associate Justice and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
Solicitor-General Jose Calida earlier said Parlade’s social media statements were his own opinions and did not come from the government.
During Tuesday’s oral argument, Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier asked: “When the spokesman give statements linking groups to CPP-NPA, does he do so in his official capacity as a spokesman, or are these statements simply his personal opinion?”
“Since he is a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, he has the freedom of expression,” Galandines said.
Parlade, along with Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, was given a gag order after red-tagging Ana Patricia Non, who initiated a community pantry in Quezon City, which inspired others all over the country to set up their own.
“To label somebody as thus is to deny that person its sovereignty to be able to participate in the field of ideas because you have already curtailed that particular individual,” Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said.
“The spokesperson who wears a military uniform has freedom of expression… Your excuse was he has freedom of expression. We cannot stop it. He is part of the executive. And again, maybe our concept of freedom of expression is too liberal for those in government but too restrictive for those outside,” he added.
The oral arguments will resume on Wednesday.
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