Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., who warned actress Liza Soberano against keeping ties with women’s rights group Gabriela, said he will not apologize to the actress following his controversial statement released through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Facebook page.
“Why should I apologize?” said Parlade, the spokesperson of NTF-ELCAC, in a Zoom interview Friday morning at the ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart with Karen Davila.
Parlade also claimed Soberano’s family and legal counsel Atty. Juanito Lim Jr. thanked him for informing them about the “duplicitous” nature of Gabriela.
“It is not correct to say that Atty. Lim and the family (are) complaining about me red-tagging Liza Soberano. No. In fact, I got a message, a call from Atty. Lim yesterday (around 5:15 in the afternoon) thanking me and informing me and 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.”
Parlade denied allegations of red-tagging the actress in his statement. "I feel it’s our responsibility, especially with the national task force, to end local communist armed conflict to inform these people and our netizens about these ways, the modus operandi of this communist party of the Philippines, Gabriela included. That’s my only purpose. Wala akong ni-red bait, wala akong ni-red tag.”
PhilSTAR L!fe reached out to Soberano’s legal counsel, Atty. Juanito R. Lim Jr. of Lim & Yutatco-Sze Law Firm via e-mail and below is his response:
“Around noon of October 22, I sent an e-mail to SoLCom’s FB page to ask for their postal address as I intend to send a formal correspondence. At around 4 p.m., I received a call from Lt. Gen. Parlade. I thanked him for personally reaching out. It was a cordial discussion. I even told him that I intend to send him a letter to express our stand on the matter and personal thanks for declaring that our client, Ms. Soberano, is not a member of the NPA or any left-leaning group.
"During the call, I told Gen. Parlade that while Ms. Soberano was aware that the interviewer was from Gabriela Youth, I am certain that she had no knowledge that this group was being monitored by the AFP as another possible NPA front. The conversation was short but clear.
“As we have earlier stated, we take note of the General’s advice, unsolicited as it may be. However, please know that Ms. Soberano will continue to exercise her constitutionally protected right to free speech and expression without fear nor restraint from anyone. She will remain steadfast in her advocacy for respect for women and children.
“Again, we thank the AFP, through Lt. Gen. Parlade, for declaring that our client is not associated with the NPA or any left-leaning group.”
Parlade’s controversial statement came days after Soberano’s appearance in Gabriela Youth’s online event titled “Mga Tinig ni Nene,” where she spoke about “tragedies and hardships happening not only to women and children but to a lot of people in general.”
On Thursday, Soberano’s legal counsel Atty. Lim released a statement denouncing the alleged red-tagging of the actress by Parlade.
“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,” said Lim of the Lim & Yutatco-Sze law firm in his statement. Lim also said that Soberano “remains apolitical.”
Lawmakers, netizens and celebrities lambasted Parlade for allegedly red-tagging Soberano, and warning Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who has voiced out against the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the government’s shut down of ABS-CBN, not to follow what actress-philanthropist Angel Locsin and her sister Ella Colmenares are doing. (Parlade, in the Headstart interview, associated Colmenares, a third nominee of the Kabataan party list in 2007, as “part of the underground. She operated in Quezon, especially in Polillo Island.”)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who was once a representative of the progressive group Akbayan in Congress, pointed out to Parlade, “Do not use your powers as a general to intimidate and threaten these women.” She continued, “We will not forget this. I will remember all of this and you will have to get ready for our next meeting at the Commission on Appointments. I cannot let this slide. See you in the next round.”
Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas also said in a series of tweets Thursday, “He (Parlade) is maliciously associating the actress with the armed movement when what she did in the youth forum was to only speak up for all the victims of gender-based violence and abuse."
Parlade, who is known for tagging left-leaning organizations and individuals as members of the communist rebels, was firm that he did not red tag Soberano. “Those people saying that I did red tag got their comments somewhere. Maybe they did not even read my entire statement.”
“I am not threatening these women. I also have daughters, I have sisters. Ang dami kong kaibigan na mga babae and I support that advocacy to defend women’s rights,” Parlade said.
Banner image from Liza Soberano's Instagram account and a screen shot from ANC's Headstart