A known anti-communist hardliner, Parlade, chief of Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has called attention to himself when he issued a veiled threat to young actress Liza Soberano, and practically tagging her, along with 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray and TV-movie actress Angel Locsin as communists.
Parlade is taking his fight against communists too far. If this is how ranking military officers like Parlade squander billions of pesos in intelligence funds, Congress should severely cut the allocation in the national government’s budget and realign the amount to more pressing needs such as assistance to farmers or scholarship grant to poor students.
Parlade has chosen to take the insurgency war on social media, targeting the celebrities who are far more credible and respected than many pea-brained soldiers who seemed to have abdicated their duty as protectors of the people.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Tuesday, the general said Soberano needs to be educated about the “true agenda” of activist groups such as Gabriela, and that she still has time to “abdicate” the group; otherwise, she would suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira, a 22-year-old University of the Philippines student who died in 2017 in what was reported as an encounter between communist rebels and the military in Batangas.
Parlade’s comments came after Soberano participated as a speaker in Gabriela Youth’s webinar titled “Mga Tinig ni Nene: Reclaiming Our Voices on the International Day of the Girl Child.” The 22-year-old Filipina-American actress even broke into tears as she took a stand on the issue of violence against women and children.
Probably keeping his macho image, the general refuses to apologize for his remarks, prompting some people to say that it was an ungentlemanly behavior. It seems that Parlade could not stand beautiful ladies with brains. He is probably not used to seeing or arguing with women who speak out their mind, and so he could not respect their views.
Despite the flak he has been getting in mainstream media as well as on social media platforms, Parlade keeps harping on celebrities he perceived as sympathetic to the left. To justify insinuations about Angel Locsin’s communist leanings, he insists that the actress’s sister, Ella Colmenares, is a member of the New People’s Army. Colmenares had rebuked the general, saying that she supports women’s rights but not armed struggle.
As it goes, Parlade needs a break, and while on it, he should be reminded that the Philippines is still a democratic state. Instead of suggesting that Soberano be educated on the agenda of activist groups, it would serve the country better if Parlade is educated about respecting women and their views in a democratic setting. He should accept that not every critic of the government is a communist. Not every person who condemns injustice by the military is a terrorist. Advocating women’s rights is not exclusive to communists and terrorists.
Parlade’s statement on Soberano’s attendance at the Gabriela Youth webinar was double edged. While he said that the actress should not be red-tagged because it “is not fair to her” considering that she “is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights,” at the same time, he threatened that she would have the same fate as Lapira if he would not dissociate from the activist group.
He even dragged the 2018 Miss Universe and TV and philanthropic movie actress Angel Locsin to the issue. Gray and Locsin are also outspoken advocates of women’s rights and issues. The way Parlade pushes his anti-communist stance, he has been acting more like a bully than a military general.
Soberano, Gray, and Locsin have kind hearts and brains. To them, pursuing advocacies and joining advocacy groups are not money-making or popularity-seeking activities, but part of community service and engagement, something that Parlade should take, rather than labelling them as would-be communists.
Why is Parlade picking a fight with these beautiful ladies? Was he afraid that because of their large following and credibility, they would attract more following than the discredited military?
It was a good move for Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza to step in and remind Parlade that he should just shut up if he has not evidence to prove the communist leanings of the popular personalities he has been crossing paths with lately.
The military and the police have been overly sensitive to criticisms particularly following the alleged maltreatment of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino and her daughter which, according to international rights groups, was in violation of international standards on prisoners and children.
Some critics say that Parlade wanted attention because he aspires to become the next chief of staff of the AFP. If that’s true, then he doesn’t deserve any promotion.
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.