MANILA, Philippines — A military general warned actress Liza Soberano that her association with a women’s rights group may put her in the same path as those killed in encounters with troops or raped by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) chief and spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), gave the warning in a statement directed at Soberano on Wednesday night.
Parlade advised Soberano, who spoke in an online forum on gender-based abuse hosted by the Gabriela Women’s Party earlier this week, not to engage in what he described as an “underground mass organization.”
“Liza Soberano, there’s still a chance to abdicate that group. If you don’t, you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira @ELLA, former Deputy Secretary General of Gabriela Youth of UP, Manila and defender of women’s rights, even against sexual predators amongst her comrades in the NPA unit she joined which is clearly stated in her handwritten letter addressed to a certain @EMIL,” the general said.
Lapira, a 22-year-old student at the University of the Philippines-Manila, was killed in what was reported as an encounter between communist rebels and government forces in Batangas in November 2017.
Following her appearance in the online forum to support women’s rights, Soberano was criticized by netizens and labeled as a communist sympathizer in some social media platforms.
“Let us not red-tag Liza Soberano. It’s not fair to her. She is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights. She has to be protected in the exercise of her rights. Is she an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet,” Parlade said.
He said that Soberano and other celebrity targets, like Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, should not be red-tagged and instead be educated on the supposed violent agenda of the communist Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), which he said is fronted by Gabriela.
“The choice is yours Liza. And so with you Catriona,” said Parlade, who also alluded to the supposed association of actress Angel Locsin and her sister to the underground movement linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA.
In a statement quoted by GMA News Online yesterday, Soberano’s legal counsel Juanito Lim Jr. said: “We denounce in the strongest terms the red tagging of our client, Ms. Liza Soberano, in some social media platforms… Expressing her love and respect for women and children is her personal advocacy.”
Earlier, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas issued a statement accusing Parlade of “rabidly red-tagging” Soberano and other women celebrities and influencers who support and speak out on women’s rights especially against violence and abuse.
For Malacañang, Parlade’s remarks were a mere reminder to Soberano and Gray to be wary of attempts by Leftists to exploit their advocacies.
“Pinag-iingatan lang nila sila na baka mamaya magamit sila ng Left [He was just asking them to be careful because they might be used by the Left],” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.
“The military understands that they are advocating the rights of women. But of course, be careful also because the Maoists in the Philippines, if they can exploit something, they would exploit it,” he said.
Roque clarified that the Duterte administration does not have any issue with the comments of Soberano and Gray because the President is also pushing for the rights of women.
“His (Duterte) track record is clear especially when he was mayor of Davao City,” the Palace spokesman said of the President’s stand on women’s rights. – Alexis Romero