Parlade slips into retirement quietly, Bacarro takes military command in Southern Luzon

Contrary to his perceived persona of making headline-grabbing statements against individuals or groups accused of ties with communist groups, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. formally retired from the military service in a rather "quiet" ceremony over the weekend.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. retires from military service as a commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) in a cwremony held at Camp Nakar in Quezon province on July 25, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Armed Forces of the Philippines)

Parlade -- who repeatedly made headlines due to his controversial statements accusing celebrities, politicians, and activists among others of having communist links -- ended his 38-year military career as a commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) in a ceremony held at Camp Nakar in Quezon province on Sunday, July 25.

He was replaced as SOLCOM chief by Maj. Gen. Vicente Bacarro, erstwhile commander of the Philippine Army's 2nd Infantry Division and recipient of the prestigious Medal of Valor, the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) highest military honor.

Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, AFP Chief of Staff, praised Parlade for his efforts in purging the remnants of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA)'s forces in Southern Luzon.

"Southern Luzon Command, under Lieutenant General Parlade, certainly ensured that the people of Southern Tagalog and Bicol Region are free from the influence of the enemies of the state, who continuously resort to violence, intimidation, and deception in pursuing their crooked interests and vile goals," said Sobejana, who presided over the joint change of command and retirement ceremony.

According to Sobejana, Parlade "pursued the effective and timely implementation of campaign plans that aim to finally neutralize or destroy the remaining communist terrorist groups (CTGs) operating in Southern Luzon."

"Working hand-in-hand with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), SOLCOM was able to address insurgency in the region through combat operations and by addressing the root causes of insurgency," Sobejana said.

Aside from being a SOLCOM commander, Parlade also served as a spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC where he helped spread the objectives of the government's anti-communist task force.

However, Parlade was often criticized for allegedly tagging dissenters as guerilla warriors or members, among the most recent was the proponent of the "community pantry, Ana Patricia Non, whom he likened to "Satan offering apple to Eve." In June, He, however, Parlade resigned from his post as an NTF-ELCAC mouthpiece.

Sobejana also lauded Parlade's leadership which led in the activation of humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) task groups that helped SOLCOM "to promptly respond to any eventualities, especially during the recent eruptions of Taal volcano."

"Lieutenant General Parlade also led the Command in implementing stakeholder engagements and community support programs to identify and address issues that the CTGs exploit for their propaganda. Indeed, SOLCOM, under the leadership of Lieutenant General Parlade, is always ready to safeguard the people of Southern Luzon from whatever danger or unwanted circumstances that threaten the security environment in the area of operations," the AFP Chief said.

Parlade is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Hinirang” Class of 1987.

Meanwhile, Bacarro previously served as the Commandant of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet Corps, Internal Auditor of the AFP, Chief of Staff of 4th Infantry Division, Commander of 502nd Infantry Brigade, and head of the AFP-ELCAC. He is a member of the PMA “Maringal” Class of 1988.

Major Gen. Vicente Bacarro assumes as the commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) in a ceremony held at Camp Nakar in Quezon province on July 25, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Armed Forces of the Philippines)

His appointment as the SOLCOM commander was challenged by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez earlier this month due to the hazing death of freshman cadet Darwin Dormitorio when the general was serving as the Commandant of the PMA Cadet Corps in September 2019.

Despite this, Sobejana believes that Bacarro is qualified for the post, owing to his expertise as a military tactician.

Then a second lieutenant officer, Bacarro was awarded the Medal of Valor after leading a 50-member strong CAFGU company under the 5th Infantry Division into victory against a 150-member NPA group in a 10-hour firefight in Maconacon, Isabel in 1991.

In order to extract his subordinates who were pinned down by enemy fire, Bacarro rammed a truck into a compound surrounded by communists to punch a hole and provide an exit point for his men, all this while being hit by a gunshot in his left thigh.

"Major Gen. Bacarro’s bravery and gallantry are beyond reproach. He is a leader who never leaves his men behind in the direst of situations," Sobejana said.

"I expect that he will usher in more accomplishments and milestones not only for this command, but also for the whole of Southern Luzon, he added.