It’s been a week of red-tagging, veiled threats, accusations and reactions. Amid a raging pandemic, a top military officer is focusing on a 22-year-old actress for talking about women’s rights in a forum by Gabriela Youth.
On Oct. 13, Soberano participated in the webinar “Mga Tinig ni Nene: Reclaiming Our Voices on the International Day of the Girl Child,” hosted by Gabriela Youth, a political group based in universities and composed of women students.
Soberano did not directly criticize the government but talked about the treatment of women in our society. She was reduced to tears as she alluded to a rape comment directed at her on Twitter in September.
(The issue started when she wrote a series of tweets complaining about her Converge internet account, and an alleged Converge employee commented on Soberano’s tweet, “Wala tayong magagawa, wala ng trabaho, kaya di bale ng masira ang image, magkapera lang. Sarap ipa-rape sa mga…. ewan!” Soberano has since filed a criminal complaint.)
After the Gabriela Youth forum, a self-titled “DDS Princess” vlogger attacked the group, saying, they were “a front for NPAS and terrorists.”
She addressed Soberano in Tagalog, “Why weren’t you making comments about women who were killed during the previous administration of ‘Abnoy’?”
“Kasi wala kang ginagawa ngayon?” she added.
Other DDS or Duterte Diehards jumped in on social media, criticizing Soberano while others pointed out that the vlogger’s comments were libelous.
YouTube user margarita2go wrote, “Being a progressive thinker doesn’t make one a communist. Red-tagging is criminal. Reported.”
A week later, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., chief of the Southern Luzon Command of the AFP, released a statement on the Facebook page of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying, “Let’s not red-tag Liza Soberano”—and then seemingly do just that.
Senator Kiko Pangilinan: Advocates and progressives must not be mistaken for communists and terrorists. They speak to express and to empower.
First, by accusing Gabriela of having a “hidden violent agenda” and by warning Soberano that if she didn’t “abdicate” the group, she “will suffer the same fate as (Gabriela Youth member) Josephine Anne Lapira,” who was killed in a military encounter in Batangas in 2017.
He also said, “Is (Soberano) an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet.”
Not content with warning just Soberano, he continued, “And so with you Catriona (Gray). Don't follow the path Ka Ella Colmenares (Locsin) took in the underground and NPA Quezon. I am sure Angel Locsin and Neri Colmenares will not tell you this.”
Ella Colemanares is the sister of actress Angel Locsin.
Reactions to Parlade’s statement have been pouring since yesterday.
Colmenares wrote on Twitter, “I do not have to defend myself as I have not done anything wrong but I decided to speak up, not just for myself but also for my children, whose lives may have been endangered because of this reckless red-tagging being broadcasted on social media.”
Soberano’s legal counsel Atty. Juanito R. Lim Jr. released a statement yesterday. “We denounce in the strongest terms the ‘red-tagging’ of our client, Ms. Liza Soberano, in some social media platforms. Expressing her love and respect for women and children is her personal advocacy,” he said.
“Ms. Soberano remains to be apolitical. The important point here is respect for others, a virtue she has conscientiously practiced all her life.”
Early this morning, however, Parlade said on Karen Davila’s show Headstart, “Why should I apologize?” and that Atty. Lim informed him “they are sending a thank you letter to me personally for informing them about the danger of this organization, which they don’t want their client to be associated with.”
Well, that was quick.
Ella Colmenares: I decided to speak up, not just for myself but also for my children, whose lives may have been endangered because of this reckless red-tagging.
Yesterday, Senators Pia Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan also took to Twitter.
Pangilinan said, “Advocates and progressives must not be mistaken for communists and terrorists. They speak to express and to empower.”
Hontiveros called Parlade’s actions “ungentlemanly and a shame” to his rank and the military academy PMA. “I started as a young advocate for women’s rights, and married a military man and rasied a family of four with him. We betray the integrity of our military, and especially our women and children by allowing abuses of power like this to happen.”
Addressing Soberano and Gray, she said, “This is your right. Keep being brave.”
Hontiveros added that she would not forget this incident, and that Parlade should be ready the next time he faces the Commission on Appointments.
Parlade told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo today, “Don’t threaten us about this confirmation or whatever. Wala akong interest na mag-chief of staff at wala akong interest na dumaan pa dyan sa Commission on Appointments.”
Today Angel Locsin wrote on Instagram, “To set the record straight, hindi po ako parte ng NPA or any terrorist group. Neither my sister nor my kuya Neri is a part of the NPA or any terrorist group…We live in a country where our freedom to speak and express ourselves are enshrined and protected by the Constitution.
“Tigilan na po ang red-tagging. The statement made is utterly false and places ordinary citizens like us, those who they swore to protect, in danger.”
Lt.Gen. Antonio Parlade: Why should I apologize?
Gray’s lawyer Joji Alonso also released a statement today, saying in part, “Dragging Catriona's name when all she has endeavored to do is advocate for women’s rights is completely uncalled for. She remains steadfast in her stance that no one should be silenced in sharing their personal stories that give strength to fellow women who have gone through similar experiences.”
If the flak Parlade is taking seems like overkill, well, there’s a reason for that.
Parlade is known for his quick and often unjustified red-tagging of young people—in fact, even entire universities.
In 2018, he named 18 Metro Manila schools as breeding grounds for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP), including a non-existent Caloocan City College.
The supposed basis? They were showing films of the Marcos dictatorship.
Liza Soberano will not be the last celebrity to speak up and speak out. If there’s any lesson from all this, she’s shown us why we should.