Velasco defends red-tagged lawmakers
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco speaks with members of the left-leaning Makabayan bloc in this photo dated October 14, 2020.
Release/Office of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco

Velasco defends red-tagged lawmakers

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - October 27, 2020 - 5:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco defended Tuesday House members who have been red-tagged by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., saying that the southern Luzon military commander’s accusation “endangers the lives” of these lawmakers.

“General Parlade should be more circumspect and cautious in issuing statements against House members whose lives he may place at great risk and danger sans strong evidence,” Velasco said in a statement.

Parlade, who also serves as the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), has repeatedly accused — without presenting proof — members of the left-leaning Makabayan bloc of being “card bearing” members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“We may not agree with them on certain issues, but be mindful that these lawmakers are duly elected representatives of the people, and implicating them on issues that have yet to be substantiated is uncalled for,” Velasco said.

He added that he is also disturbed by Parlade’s red tagging of celebrities.

“I hope he will refrain from issuing unrestrained statements that also carry serious repercussions,” Velasco said. “If he has evidence, gather them and go to court, and not to the media.”

Parlade has said in an interview with ANC’s “Headstart” that the NTF-ELCAC “consolidating” evidence against the CPP and its supposed allies for them to be formally tagged as terrorists under the much-contested Anti-Terorism Act.

This is the first time in the 18th Congress that the top leader of the House denounced red-tagging against its members.

Velasco’s statement echoed the earlier call of Minority Leader Joseph Stepehn “Caraps” Paduano for (Abang Lingkod party-list) for Parlade to “file a case in court or shut up if he has no evidence to show."

Parlade has been on a red-tagging spree even after landing in hot water for issuing a veiled threat against actress Liza Soberano over her participation in a webinar hosted by Gabriela Youth, the youth arm of Gabriela Women’s Party which is also part of the Makabayan bloc.

The senior military general also said in recent interviews that members of the Makabayan bloc and Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares are under surveillance — even without a court order — for their “very obvious and pronounced” ties to the CPP.

For Parlade, this is all just a part of a propaganda war against communist rebels, despite the fact that red-tagging potentially endangers the lives of those accused.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who was once police chief, said Parlade’s tendency to “overanalyze” and “over-talk” threatens to undermine his mission of ending the communist insurgency.

Lacson said only the court can proscribe a group, like the CPP and its armed with the New People’s Army, as a terrorist organization. He added that the purpose of surveillance is defeated when the subject becomes aware that they are being tailed.

“Maybe a little prudence and self-discipline on Lt. Gen. Parlade's part will help,” Lacson said.

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