Why the AFP could not shut Parlade up

Published February 7, 2021, 8:11 PM

by Aaron Recuenco 

In the past months, the controversial Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade has been grabbing headlines and becoming the subject of criticisms not only by netizens but also some prominent government officials for being outspoken in his stand against the communist rebels and their alleged supporters.

General Antonio Parlade Jr. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Sen. Panfilo Lacson for instance was quoted saying that Parlade is actually making it hard for the government to defend the amended Anti-Terror Law which is now the subject of more than 30 petitions before the Supreme Court.

But amid mounting calls to sack him from his post as the commanding general of the Southern Luzon Command or at least shut him up, those calls appear to be easier said than done.

No less than the newly-installed military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana has insinuated that the hands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are tied in actually dealing with him in terms of aggressive word war against the alleged supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“I just want to clarify that General Parlade, on top of his being the commander of the Southern Luzon Command, he is also the spokesperson of the NTF ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict),” said Sobejana in an interview over dzBB.

“And if you would look at the structure, the Armed Forces is just a component of the NTF ELCAC,” Sobejana stressed.

Formed in 2018 through President Duterte’s Executive Order 70, ‘the NTF-ELCAC was created to synchronize the utilization of the government’s instrumentalities of power with the capabilities of private sector stakeholders to finally end the 50-year long deceit, lies and atrocities committed by the communist terrorists against the people’, according to the statement of the National Security Council.

“The President himself is leading the way by taking the role of National Task Force Commander, he is demonstrating resolve to fulfill his vow to provide a better future for the Filipino people,” the statement added.

Parlade has also been the subject of statements of condemnation from various groups, the recent was when he allegedly redtagged 18 universities as recruitment grounds for the communist rebels and threatened a reporter of charges relating to violation of the Anti-Terror Law for writing a story which he thinks is supportive of the NPA.

But some policemen and soldiers regard Parlade as their mouthpiece, as they feel that the outspoken military general is just telling the truth and is actually voicing out what they think about the communist rebels and their legal fronts. The same point of view on Parlade is shared by ranking officials of the police and the military.

Late last month, the AFP’s top intelligence official, Maj. Gen. Alex Luna was sacked from his post for the erroneous red-tagging of some alumni of the University of the Philippines which was posted and shared in social media accounts of military units. The same blunder also forced another high-ranking military officer, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, to go on leave.

But despite the same pressure in the social media and by some groups, Sobejana said what the AFP could do is to be prudent in revealing information being relayed from the military to the public.

“On our part, my guidance is to be deliberate and just to exercise due diligence especially in disclosing information. We do not want to confuse the public,” said Sobejana.