Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Cirilito E. Sobejana on Wednesday said controversial Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr. may stay as spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) despite calls for him to quit his civilian post at NTF-ELCAC.
Sobejana said he supports statements that AFP is part of that Task Force and there is no way the AFP would overrule such statements.
He, however, conceded that the NTF ELCAC has a civilian component.
The chairman of NTF-ELCAC is the President who is the Commander in Chief.
Sobejana was quizzed by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson and other members of the committee of national defense of the powerful Commission on Appointments on his appointment as a four-star general.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon had stated that Parlade’s post as spokesman of NTF-ELCAC is unconstitutional since such a post is civilian. Sobejana, a Medal of Valor awardee, said NTF-ELCAC is not purely civilian.
Its vice chairman is former AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon. Parlade, chief of the AFP Southern Luzon command, has reaped criticisms for allegedly red-tagging personalities and other progressive elements as being suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Sobejana said he called and had a talk with Parlade as a fellow Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduate on the red-tagging issue. Parlade, according to Sobejana, insisted that he has evidence on the statements he had made.
On the alleged rubout of nine alleged Leftists in Southern Luzon last Sunday, Senator Risa Hontiveros asked Sobejana on the role of the AFP of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-AFP joint operation in that incident.
Sobejana said the AFP only secured the area and that the service of search warrants was effected by PNP elements.
On allegations that the government forces planted evidence against the nine ‘’leftists,’’ Sobejana said the AFP was not privy to the actual service of the warrants but soldiers merely secured the area.
People should consider the AFP ‘’as your servants and everybody is our customer,’’ Sobejana said. Sobejana said Parlade is being investigated by the AFP Provost Marshall.
Parlade was widely condemned by media groups and two prominent former members of the Supreme Court for brandishing the controversial Anti-Terror law against Tetch Torres-Tupas, a reporter for Inquirer.net, who wrote about the alleged torture of two Aeta men accused of being communist rebels.