Progressive party-list groups run by Reds, Parlade insists
While stressing that many and most members of such groups are mere victims and noting that Gabriela Youth, for instance, has only about 10 members running the organization of a thousand members, Parlade has maintained that the public should know that joining such groups may lead to actually taking up arms and joining the armed struggle in the mountains.
Ernie Peñaredondo, file
Progressive party-list groups run by Reds, Parlade insists
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Not backing down from his accusations even after he was heavily criticized for supposedly “red-tagging” actress Liza Soberano and other celebrities for associating themselves with the women’s group Gabriela, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesman Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade has insisted that leftist groups and progressive party-list organizations in Congress – collectively known as the Makabayan Bloc – are being run by what he refers to as terrorists of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

While stressing that many and most members of such groups are mere victims and noting that Gabriela Youth, for instance, has only about 10 members running the organization of a thousand members, Parlade has maintained that the public should know that joining such groups may lead to actually taking up arms and joining the armed struggle in the mountains.

“There are many circumstantial evidence and, of course, testimony of our cadres, former rebels, who are cooperating with us now, identifying all members, in fact, all officials and party-list nominees as card-bearing members ng the CPP,” he told “The Chiefs” in mixed Filipino and English in an interview aired on One News/TV5 Monday night. He again branded the Makabayan bloc of Congress composed of progressive party-list groups as the “Kamatayan (Death) Bloc.”

But when pressed to explain why the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) appears to be resorting to publicity instead of taking legal action against supposed communist terrorists, Parlade said the military or the government is assessing and is continuously monitoring identified people.

He even admitted that with the new anti-terror law, the government is being given more opportunities, including surveillance of specific people with the consent of the Court of Appeals as required by the law and not by the persons being monitored themselves as it was the case of the Human Security Act.

“We want to make sure that when we file cases against these people, we have strong evidence,” Parlade said, emphasizing that the anti-terror law is not retroactive, which means that past acts of such groups cannot be used against them, though “chances are, they still continue providing material support to terror organizations,” including recruiting and preparatory acts like planning and training.

The ranking AFP official, who is also commander of the Southern Luzon Command, said public discussions on the issue are actually serving the good purpose of warning the victims and the public.

“Do we really want all these members of Gabriela Youth, for instance, to be in jail? Do we really want all these members of, for instance, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – 114,000 of them – to be in jail? Do we want all these members of the Kamatayan Bloc to be in jail? I don’t think so,” he said.

“Many of these members are actually victims themselves. And this is what we are trying to do: we are trying to explain the revolutionary dual tactics of these legal organizations with this underground illegal organization running it,” he added.

It does not mean, however, that as a member of Gabriela Youth, one is part of that terrorist organization, according to Parlade.

“Many, many of these Gabriela members are actually victims because they don’t understand the nature of this organization. What they know is that this is just an organization of women trying to fight for the rights of women,” he said.

Parlade explained that such advocacy for women’s rights should be supported, but unsuspecting members of the groups and the public should know that there is a very thin line dividing the legitimate activities and the illegal activities of such organizations.

He said the public should be warned against supposed activists who end up bearing arms in the mountains and become terrorists.

The military official again denied that what he or the military is doing should be considered as red-tagging and accused CPP founder Jose Maria Sison as the one who allegedly did so when he proclaimed the party-list groups as their “progressive allies.”

Parlade went as far as claiming that even the media has been infiltrated and are already being managed by the CPP through membership with the groups College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the League of Filipino Students when they were students and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines once they become media practitioners.

He said mainstream media has no longer been fair, which is why social media is now the platform for people to see and know what mainstream media is not showing or reporting.

He added that information about how the CPP has infiltrated media comes from former rebels, who can actually identify who among media personalities are associated with the communist movement.

He said he is not red-tagging the groups of celebrities, but “if that’s what it takes for the people, children, to understand, then so be it.”

Former Gabriela party-list representative Emmi de Jesus strongly denounced Parlade’s accusations and condemned the military general’s allegations and statements.

De Jesus said Parlade is already badmouthing and red-tagging progressive groups and believes that the issue is just a diversion so that the real problems of society, like hunger and poverty, are set aside.

“Gabriela has never espoused violence,” she told “The Chiefs” and accepted the reality that there will be a long legal battle ahead that progressive groups will have to face.

‘Nothing to fear’

People have nothing to fear regarding the government’s anti-insurgency campaign if they are not members of communist rebel organizations, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.

“If you are not a member of the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front, then you have nothing to worry about,” Año said in a statement, following Parlade’s linking of several celebrities to leftist groups. – Emmanuel Tupas, Edu Punay, Artemio Dumlao

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