An association of justice and court news reporters on Thursday, Feb. 4, defended one its members against the claims of an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) official of publishing “fake news” and being allowed to be used in the propaganda of communist rebels.
“This is utterly unacceptable,” read the statement issued by the Justice and Court Reporters Association (JUCRA) over Facebook posts made by Lt. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade Jr. against Tetch Torres-Tupaz.
Posts were made by Parlade on the article of Tupaz on inquirer.net entitled “Tortured Aetas seek SC help against anti-terror law.”
Tupaz’s article stated that two Aetas, who claim to have been tortured by the military and detained over trumped up charges following their arrest in Zambales, sought to be included among the petitioners asking the Supreme Court (SC) to declare as unconstitutional the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
The anti-terrorism law has been challenged in 37 SC petitions which sought to declare it unconstitutional. The SC has started conducting oral arguments on the petitions
Parlade’s comment on the article: “Congratulations for a sloppy work Tetch Torres-Tupaz of Inquirer.net. You did not even bother to check the side of the AFP and gov’t if what you are reporting is true or FAKE. Propagandista. No such thing happened. That unit is not even there but in Davao.”
The military official, who is the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), also hinted of possible filing of charges when he responded to a Facebook comment and replied: “Aiding the terrorists by spreading lies? PUEDE (possible).”
“As Parlade surely knows, providing material support to terrorists is a crime under Section 12 of the Anti-Terror Law, people accused of which are liable as ‘principals’ and punishable by at least 12 years up to life imprisonment,” JUCRA said.
“Parlade did not only red-tag Tupas, he also threatened her with prosecution just because she did her job, which all of us in JUCRA do every day,” it lamented.
JUCRA said that had Parlade read the article thoroughly, “he would have known that Tupas based her article on a petition filed at the Supreme Court.”
“JUCRA members also reported the Aetas’ petition for intervention, based on the same Supreme Court pleading. Should we all wait for a threat from Parlade, too?” it said.
“Is the general suggesting that justice reporters are supporters of terrorists?” it added.
JUCRA then pointed out that Parlade should “apologize to Tupas.”
“If not, may the people in power take notice of this threat and realize there is a deliberate attempt to use the law to chill our freedom and right to report,” JUCRA stressed.