'I won't stop': Parlade red-tags Colmenares anew
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terror Act becomes effective 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette and national newspapers on July 3.
AFP/Aileen Dimatatac

'I won't stop': Parlade red-tags Colmenares anew

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - October 25, 2020 - 1:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — Along with the Communist Party of the Philippines, human rights lawyer and Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares is also under surveillance by the government's anti-communist insurgency task force, its spokesperson said Sunday. 

"Neri Colmenares, he's under surveillance. Let me tell you, now that we have the Anti-Terror Law, it won't take long. Once the proscription of these organizations comes out...the judiciary will be designating them as terrorist organizations," Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"Right now, we can file cases, but we need to make sure that our actions are solid."

READ: Gabriela on general's warning to Liza Soberano: Why so afraid of women defending other women?

Red-tagging accusations need proof, 'otherwise just keep quiet'

Speaking in an interview aired over ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Parlade again claimed that mainstream media "twisted" the words of public officials, insisting that defense chief Delfin Lorenzana even urged him to "press on" with the national task force's campaign against alleged communists.

Lorenzana earlier told reporters that security forces should keep their mouths shut if they did not have the evidence to back up their accusations. Media reports on the pronouncement quoted the defense secretary as saying: "Although ELCAC is a very good idea, it is not right to shotgun everybody. [We] should be selective. Don’t just accuse someone as leftist or a member of the NPA. We should have evidence."

"Otherwise, just keep quiet," he added. 

Parlade, though, vowed to continue issuing statements about alleged communists in the country. He did not address Lorenzana's position on the need for proof before making public accusations. 

"This is not my opinion. This is the NTF-ELCAC position on these issues. It just so happens I'm the one speaking right now. I'm just one of the spokespersons. This is beyond me. Our chairman is the President. Will I stop what I'm doing? Of course not," he said. 

The controversial and widely-criticized Anti-Terror Law is facing 37 legal challenges before the Supreme Court as of this post. Earlier, the justice department said that participating in civil and political exercises such as protest actions and demonstrations to express dissent are not classified as acts of terrorism. 

RELATED: Protests, political exercises not classified as terrorism — DOJ

'Institutionalized' attacks against critics

On more than one occasion, the NTF-ELCAC, which routinely accuses activist groups critical of the Duterte administration of being affiliated with the New People's Army, has been caught spreading disinformation. Even the United Nations has acknowledged that the vilification of dissent and attacks against perceived critics of the Philippine government is being “increasingly institutionalized and normalized in ways that will be very difficult to reverse."

Parlade in his interview added that he was "defending" and not red-tagging actress Liza Soberano when he warned her that she would "suffer the same fate" as dead rebels and even went as far as hurling wild accusations against her sister, Ella Colmenares.

"Ella is a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. If you join the [League of Filipino Students,] you are a card-bearing member of the communist party," he said, though he did not provide any proof outside of his insistence. 

On her personal Twitter account earlier this week, Colmenares wrote: "Yes, I believe in the protection of women's rights and human rights...That doesn't mean that I'm a member of the NPA as what is being claimed."

"Practicing our constitutional rights that we are entitled of, expressing our opinions, and having a belief different from the others does not entail that one should be red-tagged," she also said.

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