A known anti-communist hardliner, Parlade, the chief of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), called attention to himself when he issued a veiled threat to young actress Liza Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, practically tagging them as communists.
Parlade is taking his fight against communists too far. By practically red-tagging Soberano and Gray, and other personalities who, in one way or another, have supported or joined activities of left-leaning groups, Parlade has taken the insurgency war into social media.
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 could 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 Filipino American actress even broke into tears as she took a stand on the issue of violence against women and children.
Probably in keeping with his macho image, the general refuses to apologize for his remarks, prompting some people to say that he was ungentlemanly. It seems that Parlade cannot stand beautiful ladies with brains. He is probably not used to seeing or arguing with women who speak their mind, and so he cannot respect their views.
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.
Parlade’s comment 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 warned that she could meet the same fate as Lapira if she does not dissociate herself from the activist group.
He even dragged the beauty queen Gray, and actress Angel Locsin into the issue. Gray and Locsin are also outspoken advocates of women’s rights and issues.
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 appreciate, rather than labeling them as would-be communists.
Parlade acts more like a bully than a military general. Why is he picking a fight with these beautiful ladies? Is he afraid that because of their large following and credibility, they would attract a wider following than the discredited military?
It was a good move on the part of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to step in and remind Parlade that he should just shut up if he has no 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 criticism, particularly following the alleged maltreatment of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino and her baby daughter which, according to international rights groups, was in violation of international standards on prisoners and children.
Some critics say that Parlade just wants attention because he aspires to become the next AFP chief of staff. If that’s true, then he doesn’t deserve any promotion.