Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday vowed to “protect from potential harm” lawmakers who have become the targets of relentless red-tagging by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In a statement, Velasco said he is “deeply concerned over the continuous red-tagging’ of House members, saying that unproven allegations aired by Parlade have put the lives of the aggrieved solons in danger.
“As Speaker of the House, I am duty-bound to protect them from potential harm due to these careless accusations so that they may carry their legal and constitutional mandate as members of Congress,” said Velasco.
“I am equally disturbed that General Parlade has targeted celebrities for speaking their minds and promoting their advocacies. I hope he will refrain from issuing unrestrained statements that also carry serious repercussions,” the speaker said.
Six members of the Makabayan bloc led by Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlo Zarate have complained against Parlade’s actions.
Actress Angel Locsin, niece of Bayan Muna Rep. Nery Colmenares, and equally popular Liza Soberano have also been “victims” of red-tagging launched recently by Parlade’s group.
Velasco said Parlade should go to court, “and not in the media” if he has evidence showing that the said personalities are involved in the rebel communist movement in the country.
“General Parlade should be more circumspect and cautious in issuing statements against House members whose lives he may place at great risk and danger sans strong evidence,” Velasco said.
He added: “We may not agree with them on certain issues, but be mindful that these lawmakers are duly elected representatives of the people, and implicating them on issues that have yet to be substantiated is uncalled for.”
Meanwhile, Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro chided Parlade for refusing to abandon his “red-tagging” operations despite failing to present evidence to back his accusations.
“Despite having no evidence at all on his claims, Parlade continues his unceasing red-tagging of the Makabayan bloc and even admits to conducting surveillance of the party-list members and leaders of the Makabayan bloc in recent interviews,” said Castro.
“Sowing fear and threatening our safety and freedoms, this admission violates our constitutional right to privacy,” Castro stated
On the other hand, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said the Makabayan bloc’s track record in the Lower House indicates the lack of basis of Parlade’s attacks against them.
“Our track record speaks for itself. Congressional records will show that Makabayan Bloc representatives are some of the most hard-working members of the lower house consistent with our sworn duty to pass legislation in support of people’s rights and welfare, definitely not some terrorist group Lt. General Parlade and his ilk in the NTF-ELCAC desperately tries to portray us,” said Gaite.