By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines– Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin said, red-tagging, or the branding of government critics and activists as communists or enemies of the government, only put Philippines in bad light of global perception. 

Locsin's remark came after Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), accused reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas of allegedly “aiding the terrorists by spreading lies” over her story “Tortured Aetas seek SC help against anti-terror law”.

“It multiplies our problems of global perception in the capitals of the civilized world,” Locsin wrote in a tweet. 

The country’s top diplomat likewise agreed with Senator Panfilo Lacson stance that Parlade’s remarks may compromise the government’s defense of the anti-terror law before the Supreme Court.

Senator Lacson, who is one of the authors of the anti-terror law, reiterated that "such remarks from a high-ranking military official is uncalled for and totally unnecessary," such that the military general is defending the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 against 37 petitions, particularly on the issue involving ‘overbreadth doctrine’ among others.

According to the lawmaker, there are basic freedoms that remain to be protected and upheld under the said law, foremost is the freedom of speech or expression.

“Accusing a journalist of ‘aiding the terrorists by spreading lies,’ assuming that such comment was accurately attributed to him, surely does not help the government to convince the magistrates of the Supreme Court to rule in its favor,” Lacson said.

In a Facebook post, Parlade claimed that the report of reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas on the petition of jailed Aetas to intervene in the ongoing anti-terror law case in the Supreme Court case is "fake" and "propaganda machinery."

Parlade had claimed that Tupas can be held liable under the anti-terrorism law for “aiding terrorists by spreading lies.” Tupas merely reported the content of the petition filed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, February 2, including the allegations of Aetas that members of the military tortured them for nearly a week.

Last year, Malacañang said that President Duterte told law enforcers to stop red-tagging any individual without evidence and reminded them to just do their job quietly and according to the law. The order came after Parlade erroneously accused actress Liza Soberano, former Miss Universe Catriona Gray, and other celebrities for their civic-minded advocacies. 

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