Lacson: 'Gag order' on Parlade not enough

Published April 26, 2021, 12:38 PM

by Mario Casayuran

A temporary ‘’gag order’’ by the military leadership on controversial Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr. is not the appropriate response to the calls against his attacks to community pantry organizers and lawmakers, Senator Panfio M. Lacson on Monday, April 26, said.

AFP Southern Luzon Command chief and NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade in a hearing at the Senate. Senators want to realign the NTF-ELCAC’s funds over Parlade’s red-tagging of community pantry organizers. (Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal)

‘’The issue goes beyond the attacks issued by Parlade on the organizers of community pantries as well as against the members of the Senate. A temporary ‘gag order’ is thus not the appropriate response,’’ Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, said in his statement.

Parlade had dubbed senators as ‘’stupid’’ for asking for the defunding of the National Task Force to end Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC). He is the task force’s spokesperson and the concurrently, the head of Armed of the Philippines’ (AFP) Southern Luzon Command.

‘’In the first place, as an active member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Parlade ‘cannot be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government,’ according to Art. XVI, Sec. 5, Paragraph 4 of no less than the 1987 Constitution,” Lacson pointed out, citing the Senate-adopted committee report recommending the removal of Parlade as NTF-ELCAC spokesperson.

Lacson said the Department of National Defense (DND) and the AFP should have heeded the recent call of the Senate to immediately recall him back to the AFP.

‘’He should be censured for dabbling in politics instead of just focusing on his inherent mission as commanding general of the Southern Luzon Command – that is, to fight threats such as terrorism and insurgency,’’ he pointed out.

On Sunday, April 25, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, who is also the NTF-ELCAC’s vice chairperson, confirmed that he has ordered Parlade to refrain from issuing statements on community pantries, now saying that they support the initiative.

‘’Meanwhile, as far as Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy is concerned, her political statements are her and the NTF-ELCAC’s responsibility to the Filipino people,’’ Lacson said.