Parlade stays, says DND chief

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Parlade stays, says DND chief
The Senate committee on national defense and security earlier asserted that Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade’s appointment as spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict violated the Constitution.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has thumbed down the Senate’s recommendation to remove Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade from his post as spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“The leader of the task force is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP). We are involved there, so if you will remove Gen. Parlade, you will remove the Armed Forces there,” Lorenzana said.

Still, the DND chief said Parlade’s post is a very complicated issue, as the 1987 Constitution states that no active member of the AFP can be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position.

Lorenzana does not agree with this view and said that Parlade’s designation as NTF-ELCAC spokesman does not violate the Constitution.

“Gen. Parlade is part of the AFP and so his expertise is being utilized as spokesman of the NTF-ELCAC so I don’t see any violation of the Constitution,” he added.

For Malacañang, the decision to remove or keep Parlade as NTF-ELCAC spokesman is up to the DND. “We leave the decision to Sec. Lorenzana of the DND,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

Roque issued the statement after the Senate committee on national defense and security asserted that Parlade’s appointment violates of the Constitution.

Deep concern

For its part, the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines is deeply concerned over the killing of nine ‘red-tagged’ activists in simultaneous police-military operations in Calabarzon.

“Reports on the use of excessive force against unarmed individuals and alleged irregularities in the law enforcement operations have raised concerns,” the EU Delegation said.

In response, Malacañang assured the EU that government does not condone impunity and is committed to get to the bottom of the killings.

“So, I ask the European Union, please give the Philippines a chance to discharge its obligation to investigate, punish and prosecute those who may have breached our domestic laws. We are undertaking and discharging the state obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish,” Roque said.

Accordingly, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday again urged the government to give access to case files involving extrajudicial killings in the country.

“We have repeatedly urged the government to translate commitments to respect and uphold human rights to actual reduction of violence on the ground. Words will mean nothing if deaths and violations of human rights will continue to persist,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

End unsolved killings

Senate President pro tempore Ralph Recto said unsolved killings must end to spare democracy from lasting damage.

“Every time a lawyer is killed, a judge waylaid, an activist executed, a mayor ambushed, a slum teenager murdered, an agent of the state silenced, it strengthens the perception that justice is elusive and crime does pay. That, I fear, is the greatest threat to our children’s future because the democratic guarantee of ‘justice for all’ is gone,” Recto said. – Cristina Mendez, Pia Lee-Brago, Janvic Mateo, Cecille Suerte Felipe


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