Senators to censure anti-communist task force spokesperson
FIFTEEN senators filed on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, a resolution seeking to censure a military general for his “disrespectful, derogatory and demeaning statements” against members of the Senate.
The resolution also noted that Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), has red-tagged personalities, party list groups, universities, colleges and members of the academe without trial nor proof.
It was authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Sherwin Gatchalian, Leila de Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Joel Villanueva, Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III and Pia Cayetano.
Parlade recently likened community pantry pioneer Ana Patricia Non to Satan. Non had put up the first community pantry that “sparked a revolution of kindness” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The general also admitted to conducting background checks on community pantry organizers.
Some senators had denounced Parlade’s statements and pushed for defunding of NTF-Elcac. The senators also sought the realignment of the task force’s P19.4-billion budget for 2021 to the social amelioration program.
In response, Parlade said in a television interview, “I’ll tell you, sila ang stupid kung ito ay binabawi nila. Pinirmahan nila ‘yung batas na ‘yan para maging serbisyo, ipagpatuloy ang programa ng gobyerno. Ngayon sasabihin nila na ide-defund nila ‘yung NTF-Elcac.”
Parlade was also caught saying, “Tell your staff to research well because they are paid a hefty sum, then ask them for accurate news.”
The resolution also noted the conflict between Parlade’s appointment to the task force and his post as the commander of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The Constitution provides that "No member of the armed forces in the active service shall be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”
In a statement, Parlade apologized to the lawmakers over the “stupid” remark.
“I do sincerely apologize to the other senators whom I might have inadvertently insulted, (though) I never said ALL of them are stupid,” he said.
“I know they want my head but how do we describe or call senators who want to take back the Barangay Development Fund of cleared barangays, just because of the NTF spox (spokesperson)? What about senators who think I’m getting paid by the NTF? As a soldier am I not entitled to call them for what they are? Do they deserve to be addressed honorable? Is calling one otherwise an attack to the institution?” he added.
He blamed a news outfit for misinterpreting his remark.
“I said in my interview: I will use the word they use to berate me and the NTF-Elcac, (though) referring only to (Senator) Gordon who called us ‘imbecilic, stupid..that we are not worth the pay we are receiving from NTF-Elcac.’ I don’t get a single cent from NTF. It is an additional task I do for free,” said Parlade.
“Then he (Gordon) proceeds (that) they (senators) shall move to defund the NTF-Elcac to realign budget to anti-Covid (efforts) instead. But Inquirer's headline slanted my statement again in their headline: Parlade -Senators are stupid,” he added.
On Sunday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. ordered Parlade and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, another NTF-Elcac spokesperson, to stop issuing statements about the community pantries. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)