Questions for Esperon pile up as SC justices bring up Parlade's red-tagging in anti-terror debates
Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier interpellated Assistant Solicitor General Marissa Galandines in the resumption of oral arguments on the 37 petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Screenshot from the Supreme Court Public Information Office livestream

Questions for Esperon pile up as SC justices bring up Parlade's red-tagging in anti-terror debates

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - May 11, 2021 - 7:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — Questions for National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperson are piling up as Supreme Court justices again brought up Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade’s repeated red-tagging in the ongoing oral arguments on the petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier in Tuesday’s setting noted that Parlade, a ranking military officer and spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, accused Gabriela and Kabataan party-list, which have consistently won seats in the Congress, of being fronts to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

A proscription petition against the CPP and its armed wing New People’s Army pending before the courts but the Anti-Terrorism Council had designated them as terrorists.

“When the spokesperson give statements linking a group to the CPP-NPA does he do so in his official capacity as spokesperson or are these statements simply his personal opinions?” Lazaro-Javier asked.

Assistant Solicitor General Marissa Galandines said since Parlade is a private citizen, he has freedom of expression. She added that Parlade’s posts are his personal opinions and not the official position of the government.

This was also the OSG’s position when it submitted its comment on petitioners’ pleading that asked the SC to compel Parlade to explain a Facebook post which retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said is a “clear threat” to them.

Lazaro-Javier pressed: “You are also a general, an assistant solicitor general, and the head of OSG is also a general. You are the lawyer of the government. Are you authorized to disavow the statements of the spokesperson?”

In the end, Galandines fended off questions on Palade’s red-tagging to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

“May we be allowed, we submit that these are factual matters involving the AFP and NTF-ELCAC and submit that the NSA [Esperon] can better answer,” she told the justice

Cannot overrule Parlade

But Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, in his separate interpellation, cited the case of an unnamed “military person” who does not answer to the chain of command.

Leonen noted: “This is the first time that I heard that a military person, even a colonel or general, does not answer to the chain of command, does not have that discipline and cannot be told ‘you cannot say that because you belong to the institution’. You want to say that get out of the institution first.”

He added he cannot criticize the SC without disrobing first.

When Parlade was in hot water for his continued red-tagging in March, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the Armed Forces of the Philippines has “no way” to overrule Parlade’s statements as NTF-ELCAC spokesperson.

Leonen added: “For as long as you are in government and you speak something, and if that speech is made in relation to an Executive agent, and there is only one Executive, then don’t you think that is also the voice of the Executive.”

He continued: “Unless the Executive says, Be quiet. Hindi mo pwede sabihin yan, hindi ko policy yan.’ Gusto mo sabihin yan. You want your personal freedom of expression, you go out of government first’.”

The oral arguments will resume, for its eighth setting, on Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.

Other magistrates, including Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang, had earlier said they have questions for Esperon.

Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo have yet to grill the petitioners.  After the SC wraps up its interpellation of government lawyers, retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno and retired Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, designated amici curiae (friends of court), will deliver their statements.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 13, 2021 - 9:06am

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3 despite opposition from rights groups and civil society groups that it could be used to stifle human rights.

A petition against the law has been filed at the Supreme Court and other groups are preparing pleadings of their own.

Follow this page for updates. Photo courtesy of The STAR/Michael Varcas 

May 13, 2021 - 9:06am

The Anti-Terrorism Council has designated 29 people, including alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army, as terrorists in two resolutions.

Designation allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets of those on the list. 


April 27, 2021 - 2:59pm

Solicitor General Jose Calida tells the Supreme Court that the Philippines must have an Anti-Terrorism Act because of international obligations. 

Calida says "supervening events warrant ouright dismissal of petitions." He notes there are already cases involving ATA, such as case against farmers Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos, and three individuals in Negros Occidental.

He says petitioners do not have standing to question the law since they are not directly affected by it.

April 21, 2021 - 5:53pm

Oral arguments on petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act will resume on April 27 at 2:30 p.m..

According to a Supreme Court advisory, the arguments will be carried out through videoconferencing due to the pandemic.

March 22, 2021 - 3:11pm

Oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 scheduled on March 23 is suspended due to the "alarming increase of COVID cases."

Supreme Court Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta says the oral arguments will resume on April 6 at 2:30 p.m.

March 15, 2021 - 1:03pm

The oral arguments on the petitions against the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will resume on March 23.

The Supreme Court announces that the oral arguments scheduled on March 16 is suspended.

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