AFP respects women, their rights, spokesperson says following general’s red-tagging of female celebrities

Published October 24, 2020, 4:35 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to have the utmost respect for women and their rights, a military spokesperson said Saturday, in light of the controversy involving a general who was accused of red-tagging celebrities for their advocacies.

Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the military respects the personal beliefs of actress Liza Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray even as he insisted that front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) are bent on recruiting powerful figures to advance their cause and overthrow the government.

“The AFP has the highest respect for women and women’s rights that are also being espoused by Ms. Soberano and Ms. Gray. We even accorded military honors to the former Miss Universe in August, 2019 for bringing prestige to Filipino women and for her advocacies,” Arevalo said.

The military official insisted that they are just “worried” that Soberano, and other celebrities, who may be taken advantage of by the communist groups and its front organizations.

He viewed the warning of Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SolCom), to Soberano as a way to “inform” and “educate” not only the celebrities but also the public.

“We are not saying that Ms. Soberano is a member of NPA but we are worried that she and her genuine advocacies may just be used by some sectors with reported links to the underground movement,” Arevalo said.

He said the military has the “solemn obligation” to fight and defeat communist insurgents and other enemies of the state but the focus is on preventing these groups from enticing other people to join them.

“And this sworn duty of protecting our people is what we in the AFP cannot abdicate knowing the stories of many young and idealist student leaders who were dragged into the ranks of the CTG[ communist terrorist groups] and meeting their untimely death for a worthless cause that is now being rejected not only by our people but by nations all over the world,” Arevalo said.

Last Wednesday, Parlade warned Soberano to cut ties with Gabriela Women’s Party after she participated in an online forum which was hosted by the group’s youth sector. Gabriela, according to Parlade, is a front organization of the CPP-NPA. The group has denied this claim. 

Parlade also issued the same warning to women advocates Gray and actress Angel Locsin, whose sister, Ella, was linked by the military official to an underground movement. 

Locsin and her sister both denied the allegations, while Gray said she would continue to pursue her advocacies.