After issuing a stern warning against actress Liza Soberano for her women and youth advocacies, a ranking military officer expressed disappointment over Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s order to take down several tarpaulins declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) as “persona non grata” or unwelcome persons in the City of Manila.
Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., one of the most vocal members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a government anti-communist task force created and chaired by President Duterte, asked if Domagoso was actually “welcoming” communist rebels –whom the military official tagged as terrorists– in Manila when he decided to remove the banners denouncing the communist groups.
“Why would Manila order the removal of these tarps? Is Mayor Isko welcoming this terrorist? Let’s clarify from Yorme the basis for his action. Is it fear of retribution? It’s about time we hear it from Yorme Isko. Will he now declare the NTF-ELCAC persona non grata in Manila instead?” asked Parlade, who is also the commander of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (SolCom).
He said that 96 cities across the country have declared the CPP-NPA-NDFP as persona non grata.
Domagoso has yet to issue a statement in response to Parlade’s remarks.
On Wednesday, Domagoso issued a directive to remove the propaganda tarpaulins which were put up at footbridges near the US Embassy in Ermita and on a billboard along Mendiola. There were also similar banners spotted in Paranaque City and along EDSA.
The tarpaulins bore the message: “Ang teroristang CPP-NPA-NDF ay persona non grata sa Metro Manila” (The terrorist [groups] CPP-NPA-NDF are declared as persona non grata in Metro Manila.)
There was no confirmation about this declaration from the local government of Manila.
But Domagoso said the city government “[does] not need those kinds of shenanigans” as he called for unity among the public to fight COVID-19 instead of spreading propaganda.
“We are still in the midst of a health emergency, a pandemic. We are now dealing with the effects economically. It affects people’s lives, and that must be addressed,” Domagoso said.
The CPP-NPA-NDFP is facing a proscription case before the Manila Regional Trial Court after the Department of Justice filed a petition to declare it as a terrorist organization in February, 2018. The court case has yet to be resolved.
The military has been calling the CPP-NPA a terrorist group in its official statements and press releases.
The NTF-ELCAC has also been tagging left-leaning groups and activists as communist rebels and terrorists based on Proclamation No. 374 signed by Duterte on December 5, 2017 which declared the CPP and NPA as “terrorists.”
The tarpaulins bore the logos and hotlines of the NTF-ELCAC and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
PNP Chief General Camilo Pancratius Cascolan and Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano had said that the NTF-ELCAC was the one behind the campaign.
“I don’t know who ordered it and I’m not privy to [the] latest decision of NTF-ELCAC on this,” Parlade said.
He had earlier warned actress Liza Soberano to cut ties with the left-leaning Gabriela Women’s Party or “suffer the same fate” as those who were killed by communist rebels.
Soberano spoke about women and youth empowerment in a forum organized by the Gabriela Youth last week.