Red-tagger Parlade gets National Security Council post

Red-tagger Parlade gets National Security Council post
Screen grab shows Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. attending a Senate hearing
Screen grab / Senate of the Philippines YouTube

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:27 p.m.) — Former military general Antonio Parlade Jr. has been appointed deputy director general of the National Security Council, an advisory body under the Office of the President.

The Palace confirmed Parlade's appointment on Thursday afternoon.

Parlade's appointment comes as some sectors call for the defunding of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the realignment of its budget to pandemic response. Security officials have claimed that scrapping the task force's budget would intensify the recruitment of communist rebels. The Duterte administration has allocated P28.12 billion to the task force in next year's budget, higher than its P16.44 billion outlay for this year.

The NSC is chaired by the president and includes Cabinet and congressional officials. Its secretariat is headed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is director general of the NSC.

Parlade resigned as spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in July, the same month that he was to retire as chief of the military Southern Luzon Command.

He said he resigned as spokesperson of the task force "to ease the pressure on the NTF ELCAC principals who are being questioned by legislators for designating me as spokesman despite my being in the active service."

Among those legislators was Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who said that his being in a civilian post while also being a military officer violated the Constitution.

Even before his position as task force spokesperson was questioned at the Senate, Parlade had courted contoversy by repeatedly accusing government critics, activist groups and celebrities of either working with communist rebels or being rebels themselves.

In April, Parlade accused organizers of community pantries of communist ties. The allegations were met with backlash from the public and from lawmakers and the task force eventually adopted the position that it supports the volunteer-run pantries.

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In February, the general hinted at filing a suit under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act against Inquirer.net reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas, who reported on two Aeta farmers requesting the Supreme Court to allow them to join the fight against the very law.

Parlade in late 2020 warned celebrities Catriona Gray and Liza Soberano of being associated with women's group Gabriela and accused actress Angel Locsin of links to the New People's Army.

In confirming the appointment, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Parlade had "faithfully served the Armed Forces of the Philippines for many years until his retirement from the service."

"We are therefore confident that his length of fruitful service in the military would immensely contribute in the crafting of plans and policies affecting national security." 

Last July, Roque announced that Parlade  resigned as NTF-ELCAC spokesman amid questions about the legality of an active military officer occupying another post. Parlade quietly retired from military service last July.

While Parlade became visible to the public under Duterte, he also made headlines during the time of former president Benigno Aquino III.

In 2011, Parlade was relieved as Army spokesman after he called for the suspension of the ceasefire with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a view that went against the government's policy that time. 

When he was asked to react to his removal as Army spokesman, Parlade said he was happy knowing that the sentiments of soldiers were heard. — with reports from Alexis Romero

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