Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday advised Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), to keep the public informed against the dangers of being involved with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) but exercise prudence in linking personalities with rebel groups.
Lorenzana confirmed that a meeting has occurred between him and the embattled general after the issue on the alleged red-tagging of celebrities including Liza Soberano, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, Angel Locsin and her sister Ella Colmenares, and former Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares.
“I already talked to him. He would still be doing what he is doing but would be more careful if there is no evidence,” the Defense chief told reporters.
He also defended the warning given by Parlade to Soberano and Gray to keep distance from groups linked by the NTF-ELCAC to CPP-NPA, including the Gabriela Women’s Party, saying it was for the best of their interests.
“He was only making them aware of the nature of Gabriela, that it is a front of a terrorist organization,” Lorenzana said.
In a separate interview, Parlade said he was told by Lorenzana to continue exposing the suspected front organizations of the CPP-NPA.
“Sabi niya (He said): ‘Continue what you are doing as long as we have evidence. Push on, press on.’ That’s his term and in fact, ito po sasabihin ko sa inyo ngayon, patuloy po ang ating kampanya na i-expose itong Communist Party of the Philippines at ang kanyang mga front organizations (I will say this right here, right now, our campaign to expose the Communist Party of the Philippines and its front organizations will continue),” Parlade said in a radio interview over dzMM.
Parlade, who is also the commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (SolCom), said Neri Colmenares is now being monitored for his alleged ties to the CPP-NPA.
“Itong CPP under surveillance ‘yan kaya si Neri Colmenares under surveillance din ‘yan (The CPP is under surveillance that’s why Neri Colmenares is also under surveillance),” he said.
Parlade did not provide context as to how Colmenares was linked to the underground movement. However, Colmenares is the uncle of Angel Locsin, a women’s rights advocate, and her sister, Ella Colmenares.
Parlade claimed that Ella became part of the League of Filipino Students (LFS), a progressive group advocating for students’ rights, from 2005 to 2007.
He claimed LFS is a front organization of the CPP-NPA and Ella’s group allegedly operated in Polillo Island in Southern Luzon.
“Angel Locsin knows everything about Ella’s involvement dito sa (in the) NPA so hindi po ako nangre-red-tag (I am not red-tagging anybody),” Parlade said. He added that Ella has since gone “above ground” after giving birth.
Both Bayan Muna and LFS have been listed by the military as front organizations of the CPP-NPA. The camp of Angel Locsin and Ella Colmenares have already denied the general’s allegations.
Parlade also clarified that Angel Locsin is not being monitored for now.
“But because of her association sa Bayan Muna sa kanyang uncle, sa kanyang kapatid, chances are kapag hindi nag-ingat si Angel Locsin ganoon din ang pupuntahan niya. (But because of her association with Bayan Muna through her uncle, through her sister, chances are if Angel Locsin does not take care, she will likely end up the same way as them),” he said.
Parlade insisted that he was just giving warnings so they won’t be taken advantage of by the communist groups.
“It is better to warn them now so that they can still choose the path of, you know, righteousness,” he said.
“The NTF-ELCAC is very serious about this. Kung ayaw mong masangkot, iwasan mo na ang association sa mga grupong ito (If you don’t want to be involved, stay away from these groups),” he added.
The NTF-ELCAC is an anti-communist task force created and chaired by President Duterte to eradicate the threat of communist insurgency, which has hounded the country for more than 50 years.