Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana gave a severe dressing-down to presidential aspirant and retired military general Antonio Parlade Jr. over his allegations that there was a growing discontent within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) due to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
Lorenzana, in a public address of President Duterte on Monday night, Nov. 15, said he personally called Parlade to remind him to refrain from using his name and the military organization to advance his political ambitions.
“Ako po ay nagulat din kung bakit nadawit 'yong pangalan ko doon. Ang sabi ko pagkatapos po nang mapanood... mapakinggan ko 'yong kanyang interview ay tinawagan ko siya kung bakit sinasali niya ako sa kanyang political ambition (I was shocked too why my name was dragged in the issue. After I have seen and heard his interview, I called him to ask why he was involving me in his political ambition),” Lorenzana said.
During the filing of his certificate of candidacy (COC) for president via substitution on Monday morning, Parlade said he decided to run for the highest post since he “cannot align himself” with Go.
Go, a long-time aide of Duterte before he entered politics as a senator in 2019, is also eyeing the presidency in the forthcoming 2022 national elections.
Parlade, who has been repeatedly accused of red-tagging individuals and organizations deemed as critics of the Duterte administration, claimed that military generals and ranking personnel knew that Go “was part of the country’s problems” and he was “controlling the decisions" of Duterte.
“I don’t want to elaborate on that but that’s very clear. You ask your people, you ask your constituents, you ask people in the government, you ask AFP why. You ask the Philippine Army, you ask the Secretary of National Defense,” said Parlade, former commander of the Philippine Army’s Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM).
"I don't have a beef with Senator Bong Go. I just don't like the way he does things including controlling the decisions of the President," the former spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) added.
But Lorenzana belied the claims of Parlade, who has been the constant source of headache of the Defense Chief when he was still an active military personnel due to his loose mouth.
“General Parlade's statement is baseless. In the years, I have known the President, he has always been his own man. The President stands by his own decisions, has always been firm in his directives to us, who are working for him, and is not as easily swayed or influenced by others as purported by the general,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
Lorenzana said Go assisted the DND in ensuring the doubling of salaries of uniformed personnel when he was still the Special Assistant to the President (SAP). He added that Go has been “consistent” in strongly supporting the Defense department in all its programs and modernization efforts.
“In all these endeavors, Senator Bong Go's support to the DND and AFP has not abated. He has always been our main bridge to the President and I have not known any instance when Senator Bong Go acted outside the wishes and decisions of the President,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana maintained that the AFP “remains a professional organization that continues to work in the interest of the Filipino people, regardless of the prevailing political landscape.”
“There is no truth to the allegations that there is a brewing turmoil or discontent in the Armed Forces,” the DND Chief stressed.
The AFP and Army leaderships earlier refused to engage in the developing political turmoil between Parlade and Go.