Makabayan bloc party-lists under surveillance, Parlade says

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Makabayan bloc party-lists under surveillance, Parlade says
This photo shows Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief of staff for civil military operations.
PCOO, file

MANILA, Philippines — It is not just human rights lawyer and Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares who is under surveillance over alleged ties to communist rebels but all of the lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives, the spokesperson for the government's anti-insurgency task force said Monday. 

This comes after Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and commander of the military's Southern Luzon Command, on Sunday said that he had no intention of airing his accusations against supposed communists publicly, though he has not been able to present any substantial arguments to back up his claims in a fullry of media guestings last  week. 

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

"We have this Anti-Terror Law now. It's actually in effect, and we have to do our job to make sure that we are focusing on the right persons and we are properly implementing the law," Parlade said on Monday.

"Part of that is making sure that we have a strong case against people and organizations who, by the way, has been declared as a terrorist organization," he added. 

RELATED: Anti-communist task force gathering evidence to formally tag CPP, ‘allies’ as terrorists

Speaking in an interview aired over ANC, Parlade hurled accusations that all the members of the Makabayan bloc, the group of rogressive party-lists in the House of Representatives—whom he referred to as the "Kamatayan Bloc"—were "card-bearing members" of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

He did not care to provide evidence for this claim.  

Makabayan on allegations: An orgy of lies and fake news

The Makabayan bloc, in a statement on Monday, condemned the surveillance on its members, saying Parlade's allegations are "an orgy of lies and fake news. "

It added that the party-lists are under renewed scrutiny for asking about the billions in government funds allocated to the NTF-ELCAC.

"[T]he generals' pork in the NTF-ELCAC was exposed to the public and they are hitting back at our bloc for doing so. This P19.1-billion generals' pork will put to shame even the millions the generals and their cohorts get from fake arrests and fake surrenderees under various programs like the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP," the party-lists said.

The bloc said that the money intended for the task force "could be used to augment the budget for healthcare against the COVID pandemic, to create jobs for those left jobless by the lockdowns and give aid to those affected by the pandemic but instead such a hige amount is being used to spread fake news, red tag and intimidate freedom-loving citizens of this country," the Makabayan bloc also said.

Parlade: Very obvious affiliations

He also said that "the people" were clamoring for the lawmakers to receive charges over their "very obvious [and] pronounced" affiliations with the communist party. "They have been involved in so many terrorist organizations," he alleged. 

In a separate interview over ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo on Sunday, Parlade added: "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."

Parlade's accusations come despite already being told by no less than defense chief Delfin Lorenzana that security forces should keep their mouths shut if they did not have the evidence to back up their accusations.

READ: DND chief to Parlade: Back claims vs celebrities

"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," he was quoted as saying earlier. 

"Otherwise, just keep quiet," he added. 

No court order for surveillance 

Sections 16 and 17 of the Anti-Terror Law prescribe that state agents may tap into communication channels in secret provided they have court orders to do so.

It adds that an issuing court must first determine that there is probable cause to believe that crimes have been committed. 

But Parlade saw things differently, comparing the surveillance of alleged communists without any proof nor order to the surveillance of the West Philippine Sea. 

"We've been doing surveillance even before this law, that's part of the job of the intelligence. That's the legal surveillance that the law prescribes, but I'm talking about intelligence surveillance," he said after being asked if he had a judicial order. 

"I'm telling you, [the Makabayan bloc] had so many colleagues before who are now with us and explaining how it works in the organization, so aside from them, we have to validate all of this on the ground," he added. 

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