Senator Panfillo M. Lacson on Friday feared that the ‘’careless and unnecessary’’ remarks of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr, might weaken the government’s defense for the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) pending before the Supreme Court.
‘’Coming at a time when the Solicitor General is defending the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 against 37 petitions, particularly on the issue involving “overbreadth doctrine” among others, such remarks from a high-ranking military official is uncalled for and totally unnecessary,’’ he added.
‘’At a time unity is needed against threats such as terrorism, actions that threaten to divide are the last thing our country needs,’’ Lacson stressed.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, is the principal sponsor of the Senate version of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Principal authors of the ATA are Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Senators Lacson and Ronald dela Rosa.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also wanted Parlade fired from the AFP for threatening a criminal suit against a newspaper reporter whose story stated that Aetas in Zambales were allegedly tortured by the military to confess that they are sympathizers of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Pangilinan said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should fire Parlade for issuing baseless statements.
He cited the recent firing by Lorenzana of Major General Alex Luna, then the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, for issuing a list of UP graduates as communist rebels. The Luna list was quickly tagged by UP graduates as baseless.
Lacson said accusing a journalist of “aiding the terrorists by spreading lies,” assuming that such comment was accurately attributed to him, surely does not help the government to convince the magistrates of the Supreme Court to rule in its favor.
There are basic freedoms that remain to be protected and upheld under RA 11479, foremost is the freedom of speech or expression, he explained.
‘’While Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should be commended for taking a step backward in agreeing to open the lines for future discussions with University of the Philippines (UP) President Danny Concepcion in finding a common ground to resolve the issues involving the state’s security concerns and the UP alumni’s time-honored academic freedom, Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. keeps opening new fronts for the defense establishment to address which could have been avoided but for his careless and insensitive remarks,’’ Lacson explained.