Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., said red-tagging, or the branding of government critics and activists as communists or enemies of the State, only makes the Philippines’ problem about global perception worse.
Locsin made the statement after Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), accused reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas of “aiding the terrorists by spreading lies” over her story “Tortured Aetas seek SC help against anti-terror law”.
In a tweet, Locsin said that Parlade’s remarks were not only careless and insensitive but also make things worse for the Philippines.
“It multiplies our problems of global perception in the capitals of the civilized world,” he said.
The country’s top diplomat likewise agreed with Senator Panfilo Lacson that Parlade’s remarks do not help the government to convince the Supreme Court to rule in its favor on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“It is too simple for them to understand,” Locsin said.
In his post, Parlade questioned if Torres-Tupas’ sources were “propaganda machinery” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The government is defending the Anti-Terrorism Act 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,” Lacson said.
According to the lawmaker, there are basic freedoms that remain to be protected and upheld under the said law, foremost is the freedom of speech or expression.
“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,” Lacson said.
Last year, Malacañang said that President Duterte told law enforcers to stop red-tagging any individual without evidence and reminded them to just do their job quietly and according to the law. The order came after Parlade warned both actress Liza Soberano and former Miss Universe Catriona Gray about involving themselves with progressive groups.