Hontiveros Slams Parlade for Red-Tagging Liza Soberano; Catriona Gray

Lawmaker and feminist figure Risa Hontiveros warns Parlade against threatening Soberano, Gray, after the NTF-ELCAC spokesperson said that they could suffer the same fate as slain activists.

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Prominent Filipino feminist figure and lawmaker Sen. Risa Hontiveros minced no words in line with the red-tagging of actress Liza Soberano by National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.

Parlade previously threatened Soberano after appearing as a guest speaker in one of Gabriela Youth’s events.

“Liza Soberano, there’s still a chance to abdicate the group,” said Parlade. The spokesperson of the Duterte-created task force also said that she could suffer the same fate as the late Josephine Lapira, a Gabriela Youth member who died in a clash between suspected NPA rebels and armed authorities three years ago.

Parlade also extended his warning to Miss Universe 2019 Catriona Gray. “The choice is yours Liza, and so with you Catriona,” Parlade said. “Don’t follow the path Ka Ella Colmenares took in the underground,” he added. Gray was a vocal figure in contesting the closure of the ABS-CBN network and the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

In a statement sent to COMMONER, Hontiveros expressed utter disapproval of Parlade’s rhetoric. “Lt. General Parlade, when you sat in front of me during your appointment hearing, you were like a lamb. I gave you the benefit of the doubt. . . .

“Huwag mong gamitin ang kapangyarihan mo bilang heneral upang takutin at pagbantaan ang mga kababaihang ito. (Do not use your powers as a general to scare and threaten these women.) Your threats and harassment are unacceptable,” Hontiveros said.

In her statement, she also warned Parlade to be ready the next time he faces the Commission on Appointments. “We will not forget this. . . . Hindi ko ito kayang palampasin. (I cannot let this go.) See you in the next round.”

Hontiveros has not only professional affinity with the cause Gabriela Youth espouses but also one that is personal. She has been a staunch supporter of women’s rights even as a young advocate and has headed the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality. She has continuously pushed for pro-women legislation before as part of the House of Representatives then now as a senator.

“To Liza and Catriona: It is difficult and painful to be at the frontlines fighting beside persons oppressed by a norm that advocates rape, murder and exploitation. But every time you speak up, another girl becomes braves and another life is saved,” said Hontiveros in the same statement. She also expressed her support for the two women: “I’m behind you every step of the way. This is your constitutional right; don’t be afraid,” assured Hontiveros.

Gabriela Youth also declared their disapproval of Parlade’s remarks involving their late member Lapira. For Gabriela Youth, Lapira was a martyr.

“They (Armed Forces) continuously make use of ‘red-tagging’ to silence everybody, with or without organization, who speak out against Duterte regime’s tyrannical rule,” the group said.

But Soberano and Gray are not the only figures who have been red-tagged by Parlade. In the same report, he also linked Angel Locsin’s sister, Ella Colmenares, whom he said is working with the New People’s Army in Quezon.

NTF-ELCAC has also been involved in numerous instances of red-tagging activists, critics, media personalities, and even students in the past. The Duterte-created agency has used government platforms and thus public resources in creating disinformation and propaganda materials to promote anti-communist sentiments and link individuals to designated terrorist groups. They have previously made misleading and baseless accusations against the ABS-CBN network and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, and have used their platforms to terrorize student-activists from the University of the Philippines by saying that they were “promoting communist ideals.”

In a report by PAG-ASA, NTF-ELCAC shall receive Php 19.1 billion worth of funding in the 2021 national budget, which a Straits Times editorial says highlights the administration’s fixation on the drug war and perceived enemies of the state despite being in the middle of a health and economic crisis.

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