Are Filipino soldiers fighting the wrong war?

TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag - The Freeman

Filipino soldiers who are right now laying down their lives for what they had been told was the defense of their country and people must be getting utterly confused. They must be wondering if they are not fighting the wrong war. Betrayal is too tame a word to describe what they must have felt when their own president and commander-in-chief, defense secretary, and even the Senate, all seem to have given comfort to the enemy.

 Ordinary soldiers are not expected to raise a voice against authority. But they are not dead logs devoid of feelings. But it must have felt like a stab in the back to see and hear one of their own, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, a fine officer and gentleman and spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict get publicly shamed and humiliated by his superiors for just doing his job.

It all started when Parlade called out actress Liza Soberano and beauty queen Catriona Gray on social media to warn them against associating with suspected communist front organization Gabriela. It appears that the two women latched their own advocacies to those of the group, saying they were endangering their own lives in doing so.

Parlade took great care to qualify that he was not accusing them of being communists, that espousing similar advocacies did not necessarily mean they were Reds. The officer explained that his warning was for the women's own safety in light of the fact that the government is waging war against the communists.

But the Philippine press, always on the prowl for the sensational, pounced on the story. It had all the elements of sensationalism. A general, two pretty and prominent personalities, an insurgency, a warning. Without thinking, the press started mouthing the communist propaganda slogan meant to demonize and discredit any attempt to expose the communists from any and all disguises.

"Red-tagging," the press cried just to sell the story, never mind if they were selling the story short on facts. Nobody bothered to take note of the fact that in the real and full quote of Parlade, the officer was not threatening anyone but was actually doing some people a good turn that they may not fall into harm's way.

While every so-called journalist rushed to carry the tearful reactions of the women who seemed naive enough not to know what they were getting into, nobody lifted one tiny finger to do what responsible journalism expected them to do under the circumstances --reach out to Parlade and try to get him to explain his side of the story.

Perhaps seeing that Parlade was now being unfairly and unnecessarily roasted on every media platform, even the people who are supposed to be on his side started deserting him. The defense secretary publicly told him to stand down. So did the president and commander-in-chief. Senators want him investigated. Parlade is being spun in the air like a dressed chicken by his own. Surely the soldiers are wondering what is going on.

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