Issue on Parlade’s ‘threat’ to journalists elevated to SC

Published February 6, 2021, 4:55 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

The Supreme Court (SC) was officially informed last Friday of the alleged threat of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. to file criminal charges against any journalist “who publishes any news article that may be perceived as ‘fake’ or ‘false’ by the military.”

Supreme Court (SC) (MANILA BULLETIN)

In a manifestation filed by the group of retired SC Associate Justices Antonio T. Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales, also a former Ombudsman, the SC was told:

“Such direct threats endanger fear that chills journalists or even citizens from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

The manifestation cited the case of an online reporter, Tetch Torres-Tupaz, whom Parlade said in his social media post that she can be sued for “aiding the terrorist.”

Carpio and Morales are the petitioners in one of the 37 petitions that challenged the alleged unconstitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 under Republic Act No. 11479.

The SC has started conducting oral arguments on the petition and will resume the oral debates on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Almost all of the petitioners in the cases sought the nullification of ATA in its entirety.  They have reiterated their pleas for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would stop the implementation of the law which started on July 18, 2020.

But the SC had announced that the pleas for TRO would be settled after the termination of the oral arguments.

Almost two weeks ago, the group of Carpio and Morales had also asked the SC to require an explanation from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) regarding a Jan. 16 Facebook post of Parlade, where he called on the public to “watchful of these individuals, groups and organizations opposing a law that will protect our citizens from terrorists.”

In the case of Tupaz, posts were made by Parlade on the journalist’s article on 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).

Parlade’s comment on the article: “Congratulations for a sloppy work Tetch Torres-Tupaz of 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).”

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.