By Deighton Acuin


The “careless and unnecessary” remarks being thrown by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. might weaken the government’s defense for the pending Anti-Terrorism Law arguments before the Supreme Court, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Friday.

’Coming at a time when the Solicitor General is defending the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 against 37 petitions, particularly on the issue involving “overbreadth doctrine” among others, such remarks from a high-ranking military official is uncalled for and totally unnecessary,” Lacson said.   

‘’At a time unity is needed against threats such as terrorism, actions that threaten to divide are the last thing our country needs,’’ Lacson stressed.        

Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, is the principal sponsor of the Senate’s Anti-Terrorism Act.

Principal authors of the law include Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, and Lacson.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also called for Parlade’s relief after threatening a lawsuit against a journalist whose story stated that Aetas in Zambales were allegedly tortured by the military to let them confess that they are New People’s Army (NPA) symphatizers.

Pangilinan said that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should fire Parlade for making baseless remarks.

He cited the recent firing by Lorenzana of Major General Alex Luna, then the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, for issuing a list of UP graduates as communist rebels. The Luna list was quickly tagged by UP graduates as baseless.         

Lacson said accusing a journalist of “aiding terrorists by spreading lies” was accurately attributed to him, and he does not help the government to convince the high court’s justices to rule in the law’s favor.

The lawmaker explained there are basic freedoms that remain protected under the Anti-Terrorism Law, foremost is the speech or expression freedom.

‘’While Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should be commended for taking a step backward in agreeing to open the lines for future discussions with University of the Philippines (UP) President Danny Concepcion in finding a common ground to resolve the issues involving the state’s security concerns and the UP alumni’s time-honored academic freedom, Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. keeps opening new fronts for the defense establishment to address which could have been avoided but for his careless and insensitive remarks,’’ Lacson said.

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