Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should be protecting the people and not threatening their security, Senator Francis Pangilinan said.

KIKOPANGILINAN - ‘Protect people, don’t threaten them,’ Pangilinan tells AFP officers
Senator Francis Pangilinan
(Photo from Kiko Pangilinan website / kikopangilinan.com / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pangilinan said this as he slammed Southern Luzon Command head Lt. General Antonio Parade Jr. for “red-tagging” actresses Liza Soberano, Angel Locsin, beauty queen Catriona Gray and other activists for speaking against the harassment of women.

“The military’s red-tagging of actress Liza Soberano, former Miss Universe Catriona Gray, actress Angel Locsin, and other activists is baseless and endangers their lives and security,” Pangilinan tweeted on Thursday.

“Ayon sa Saligang Batas, ang Armed Forces of the Philippines ang magtatanggol sa taumbayan, hindi maniniil (According to the Constitution, the Armed Forces of the Philippines should protect the people, not oppress). Protector, not oppressor.”

“These threatening statements are uncalled for and unprofessional and should be called out,” he said.

Pangilinan recalled that his daughter Frankie has also tagged as leftist for shouldering the bail of those who were arrested for lining up for food rations and staging a protest in Sitio San Roque, Quezon City.

“Ano ba ‘yan? Nakipagkwentuhan lang si Liza, binantaan na ng kamatayan. Siya na nga ang binastos at binantaan ng rape, tatakutin pa?” the opposition senator said.

“Advocates and progressives must not be mistaken for communists and terrorists. They speak to express and to empower. Paano naman naging komunista si Liza eh nagtatanong lang siya tungkol sa mga abuso na nararanasan ng ating mga kabataan at kababaihan (How did Liza become a communist when she was just asking about the experiences of our women and children)?”

“Hindi krimen ang magpahayag ng opinyon kung paano mapabuti ang Pilipinas (It is not a crime to voice out opinions on how to improve our situation in the Philippines),” he continued.

Sen. Leila de Lima on Friday also hit Parlade’s remarks which she saw as an attempt to silence dissent and expressions against the abuse of women.

“Sobrang obvious naman (It was very obvious): they red-tag to gag. Hindi na nahiya sa mga apog nila (They did not even bother to save face),” De Lima said.

“What is it with women that decorated soldiers and trash-talking officials shudder in fear when they speak? Stop telling women how to behave in the face of blatant oppression. Everytime you tell us to shut up, the more we speak up,” she added.

Parlade earlier issued a statement that seemingly tagged Soberano in the communist movement after she spoke in a virtual forum organized by the Gabriela Youth. Soberano tackled issues facing women and children amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her experience with a netizen she charged for sexual harassment.

While the military official appealed to government supporters not to red-tag the actress, he warned Soberano to distance herself from the group, or “you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira”. He later denied red-tagging the actress.

Lapira was among the suspected communist rebels killed in a reported armed encounter in Batangas in 2017

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