DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) official and National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. has drawn flak for issuing threatening remarks against actress Liza Soberano and 2018 Ms. Universe Catriona Gray, some of the female celebrities who are vocal on their advocacies.
Last Oct. 13, Soberano joined Gabriela Youth’s “Tinig ni Nene” webinar, where she shared that influencers and women alike must speak up about the issues of women and children for “change cannot be the sole responsibility of the people who need it most.”
But after the webinar, several posts red-tagging or accusing Soberano as supporter of the New People’s Army or the underground movement, spread on the Internet.
Parlade, in a statement, said, “(L)et us not red-tag Liza Soberano. It’s not fair to her. She is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights. She has to be protected in the exercise of her rights. Is she an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet.”
The military official also told Soberano to reconsider her ties to Gabriela, a group that has consistently won seats at the House of Representatives.
“If you don’t, you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira, former deputy secretary-general of Gabriela Youth of UP Manila and defender of women’s rights. The choice is yours, Liza,” Parlade warned.
He also addressed the same warning to Gray who previously spoke about the anti-terror law and ABS-CBN shutdown.
Parlade further warned, “(D)on’t follow the path Ka Ella Colmenares took in the underground and NPA Quezon. I am sure Angel Locsin and Neri Colmenares will not tell you this.”
The general was referring to Locsin’s sister, Angela.
Parlade’s statement sparked the call #DefendFilipinoWomen in social media with individuals and groups expressing support. Some pointed out that the government official’s remark against these thinking Filipino women are specifically what they are aiming to address.
“By saying that Soberano is ‘not yet an NPA,’ he 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,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas in a statement.
“How come these macho-fascists have the audacity to mansplain strong women and lecture them on what to do? And why do they seem so afraid of women using their platform to defend other women?”, Brosas added.
Writer Juan Miguel Severo, also expressed his support to Soberano and to women advocating for women’s rights.
Parlade is proof that a man with a most decorated chest and a thousand guns will still cower at the sight of a woman who has found a cause for her voice.
We're with you, @lizasoberano.
— Juan Miguel Severo 🏳️🌈 (@TheRainBro) October 22, 2020
Host and former athlete Gretchen Ho said that voicing out one’s opinion is part of being a democratic country.
Bahagi ng isang demokrasya ang pagwelcome sa iba't ibang klase ng opinyon. Mahalaga ang kritisismo para malaman ang mga kailangang ayusin at baguhin.
Speaking up doesn't make you a communist/terrorist.
I stand w/ Angel Locsin, Liza Soberano & Catriona Gray. #DefendFilipinoWomen
— Gretchen Ho (@gretchenho) October 23, 2020
Some netizens said that what happened to Soberano is not far from the situation of other Filipinos who have been facing threats for being critical of the policies of the Duterte administration.
Human rights worker Philip Jamilla explained why red-tagging is also a death threat.
Why is red-tagging a death threat? It maliciously blurs the distinction between civilian activists and rebel combatants to incite and justify state violence and other human rights abuses against activists. Antonio Parlade Jr.'s statement to Liza Soberano makes that very clear.
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) October 22, 2020
National Union of People’s Lawyers member, Atty. Fahima Tajar, believed that such acts against TV personalities only prove the dangers of the Anti-Terrorism Law
Red-tagging Catriona Gray ang Liza Soberano just because they voice out dissent and support the cause of an opposition group only proves that the Anti-Terror Act is intended to suppress the people's freedom of speech and expression, not terrorism.
— Fudge Tajar (@fudgetajar) October 22, 2020
Despite the threats, Rose Quimod of Gabriela Youth-Ateneo de Davao University said that women must continue to act against violence and social injustices.
“I have high hopes to my fellow young women, for we are many and only getting stronger”, she said. (davaotoday.com)AFP, Angel Locsin, armed forces of the philippines, Catriona Gray, Democracy, duterte, Gabriela, Gabriela Partylist, Gabriela Youth, Human Rights, Liza Soberano, National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict, neri colmenares, NTF-ELCAC, philippine politics, Red Lipstick, Red-tagging, Rep. Arlene Brosas, women's rights