Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Joint Force Commander (PNA File photo)

MANILA – As expected, the allies and the propaganda machinery of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) are now spewing lies and using everything in its arsenal to paint the recently signed Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 as evil when its true purpose is to only to defeat the terrorist groups threatening the country.

This, according to Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Joint Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., in a statement forwarded to the Philippine News Agency Monday.

“The CPP propaganda machinery has been relentless in mobilizing its allies in order to attack the government in every opportunity, especially in the lead up to the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” he said.

As part of its attack plan, Parlade said  CPP propaganda machinery is now claiming that the government is behind the conviction for cyber-libel of Rappler chief executive Maria Ressa and the franchise cancellation of broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

“The line being peddled is (the) government’s attack on freedom of the press and of speech. It uses the Ressa-Rappler issue as if the government has anything to do with it. Then the ABS-CBN franchise problem, as if that too is an executive decision,” he added.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), as expected, roundly condemned the government for allegedly attacking human rights defenders even without conducting a proper investigation, he said, referring to the report where the CHR accused SOLCOM  troops of attacking a “farmer” in Antipolo, Rizal sometime in December 2017.

After announcing that they will conduct an investigation into the incident, he said SOLCOM is still to get any results of the probe or whether one has been conducted.

“It has been almost three years and we have yet to hear about any result from this investigation or if there was one at all. Has the CHR finally learned what our own investigation has unearthed- that the farmer CHR automatically defended was in fact a member of the NPA alias ‘Marvin’, and a member of Platun 4A, Guerilla Front CESAR, SRMA 4A,” he said.

He added that there is the case of Alexandria “Alex” Pacalda whom the CHR defended and claimed as only a member of militant group Karapatan.

Yet, when photos and video of Pacalda came out showing her affiliation to the New People’s Army, he said the CHR was silent on the matter with no statement correcting their error.

The same thing also happened in what Parlade called the “Malabanan case” where the CHR came to the rescue of this individual whom they claimed was just another member of Karapatan.

When pictures came out showing this person’s affiliation to the NPAs, he added that the CHR  “who has all the energy to defend without investigating, cannot gather the energy to issue a simple statement of rectification.”

“So CHR, tell us if your government is unduly attacking your HR (human rights) allies? You make grave accusations against (the) government and don’t even have the decency to apologize for your misjudgment,” he added.

Parlade also chided the CHR for doing nothing against the CPP-NPA that continues to kill indigenous people and burn engineering equipment in Mindanao aside from recruiting and hostaging Mangyan minors in Mindoro.

He added that the silence from CHR and its chief, Chito Gascon, is deafening.

“Is he too busy meeting the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) personalities in crafting disinformation and more lies about the ATA? To convince the public that ATA will suppress our freedom just like what NUPL, Bulatlat, Altermedya, and NUPL are all mouthing?” Parlade said. “And how dare you pretend to speak on behalf of Filipinos- just like Rappler frames the news about your protest. You are the dangerous minority threatening the majority of Filipinos who want the ATA to protect them.”

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia,  New Zealand, and the Philippines.

He said the ATA is very clear in its definition of terrorism and this does not include advocacy, protest, dissent, and strike as long no one is hurt or killed in the process.

“Even without the law explicitly saying it, the exercise of our constitutionally guaranteed rights have limits – you stop when you start to trample on the rights of others,” he said.

Nobody needs to be a lawyer to understand that principle of the constitution, he added.

“With the ATA taking effect, should we expect a partner to peace and security from CHR? Or will they continue to defend the CPP NPA terrorists, which are about to be proscribed as terror orgs?” Parlade said. (PNA)