Part One: Liberals counter-attack to preserve their livelihood
It is not Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. who must be shown the door, but the arrogant yellow senator who twitted it – Senator Francis Pangilinan.
An obvious beneficiary of Smartmatic’s default programming together with Risa Hontiveros, Joel Villanueva and Leila de Lima in 2016, this pseudo-legislator must be voted out in 2022 as among the twelve senator who should not have another six year-term onto 2028.
Better even, the dalliance of the Liberal Party with the Communist Party of the Philippines must be put to stop.
Given limited track at lawyering as Pangilinan was propelled into national politics mainly for using the fluked accidence of the 1986 Edsa (so-called) Revolution that shifted power from President Ferdinand Marcos to the US-backed coup d’etat that seated losing snap-election presidential candidate Corazon Aquino, and his marriage to megastar Sharon Cuneta.
For someone who is a fake activist against President Marcos, Pangilinan is now trying to ride the befuddling of the issues on the Anti-terror law, in aid of reelection.
The recent conundrum began when a certain Jasper Gurung and Junior Ramos, both Aetas, were arrested by the military for involvement in an attack against the members of the 73rd Reconnaissance Division of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. In their complaint, the military seized from the two were firearms, ammunition, and subversive documents.
The narrative woven by one Tetch Torres-Tupas of the Philippines Daily Inquirer, said intervenors through the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) took advantage first of the fact that they were “indigenous people” and second of the usual emotional refrain their human rights were violated.
In a news article last February 2, headlined “ ‘Tortured’ Aetas seek SC help against anti-terror law”, Tupas lead paragraph repeated without quotation marks Gurung’s wild accusation: Mauled, placed inside a sack and hung upside down, suffocated with a plastic bag and cigarette smoke, and forced to eat his own feces to make him admit that he is a member of the New People’s Army.
Using a worn-out tactic of petitioning the Supreme Court for some legal technicality, before a case that has been filed but has not yet been even tried in the lower court, Tupas reported that NUPL, an association of left-leaning members of the Philippine Bar, has asked Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 be declared as unconstitutional.
According to Tupas, Jasper and Junior were two Aetas who are lowly farmers tilling their small farms and foraging banana blossoms for a living. During a firefight last Aug. 21, 2020, they left their home with their families to ride a boat to a nearby evacuation center in Barangay Buhawen in Zambales.
While in detention, Gurung said they were tortured to force an admission that they were members of the NPA, to which he did not budge.
After six days, they were charged with violation of the Anti-Terror Law and Illegal Possession of Firearms, the first to be indicted under the new law, specifically Section 4 that defines terrorism.
Section 4 of the law is assailed in 37 petitions for allegedly being vagueness and for overbroad.
“With its utter vagueness, Section 4 does not only leave ordinary citizens guessing at its meaning, [but] it also invites arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement,” read the petition-in-intervention.
While the case is pending, the two urged the high court to stop the law’s implementation as “they are now under threat of being imprisoned for life without the benefit of parole under a void and constitutional law.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, has debunked claims by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and National Union of People’s Lawyers chairperson Neri Colmenares that the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was vague and ambiguous.
According to Guevarra, the supposed ambiguity was addressed by the law’s implementing rules and guidelines.
“Ambiguity in the law itset has been given remedy by the IRR that was crafted by inter-agency group led by the Department of Justice,” Guevarra said.
During last Tuesday’s oral arguments in the SC, Lagman also asserted that Republic Act 11479 was violating the principle of separation of powers when it empowered the Anti-Terrorism Council to order the arrest of suspected terrorists, which he saw as purely a judicial function.
Lagman, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, also claimed that the controversial legislation was violating the rights of an accused
to be presumed innocent and speedy trial.
For his part, Colmenares has described the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as a “hydra-headed legal monster that must be slain now lest it devours further anybody and everybody, including even its own defenders in Congress now that the terror law is no longer suspended during elections.”
President Duterte signed a stricter anti-terrorism bill, condemned by critics and rights groups as a weapon to target opponents and stifle free speech.
Duterte has defended the law, saying law-abiding citizens should not fear as it targets terrorists including communist insurgents.
But for Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, “Ambiguity in the law itself… [has been] given remedy by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that was crafted by inter-agency group led by the DOJ,” he said during the Laging Handa public briefing on Friday.
So the invalidity or unconstitutionality of a case can already be determined on its face. “The situation is you don’t normally go to court unless there is an actual controversy [that needs to be addressed by the court],” he said.
Guevarra said there is only one situation where there is no breach or there is no violation and yet petitioners can file before the court – the petition for declaratory relief. “But these are not the petitions before the Supreme Court,” he said.
He stressed that the petitions before the SC are original petitions for certiorari and prohibition which invoke grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
In fact the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, implicitly admitted that it was merely using the military’s arrest of the two Aetas as a soapbox for questioning the constitutionality of the law instead of grave abuse of discretion, when in its intervention, it said “Assuming that Gurung and Ramos killed a military officer during the firefight, their offense at most is homicide,” and that the complaint against the two, to support a case for violating the Anti-Terrorism Act, “consists of mere conclusory statements.”
Parlade cracks the Pandora’s box
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, is more concise in explaining why there is so much resistance to the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL), that is currently being heard in the Supreme Court, where 37 petitions have been filed for its discontinuance.
The Supreme Court affirmation of the law will essentially cut all the funding that the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New Peoples Army and all its so-called legal fronts, have been enjoying from their local and domestic backers.
The extent of this fortune is something that has been rocking the national security of the country, reaching perhaps its peak during the past administration when President Noynoy Aquino welcomed Akbayan elements into his cabinet and other juicy posts in government.
No less than Ronald Llamas was his national security adviser.
Truth to tell, Lt. Gen. Parlade has already submitted voluminous evidence that project proposals for funding are regularly sent by these local CPP conduits to their European backers, who then send outrageous sums of money to finance the revolution, using advocacies like defending human rights, promoting free speech, fighting for the oppressed, as their cover.
Unlike Senator Pangilinan, Parlade does not talk through his hat.
Parlade explains that the domestic sources of CPP-NPA funding traditionally come from the mining industry, contractors, small businessmen, quarrying, transport, telcos and others.
According to the NTF-ELCAC spokesman, “From 2008 to 2020 the CPP generated P9.2 billion but in 2017 alone, the ‘Rebolusyunaryong Buwis sa Kaaway na Uri’ (RBKU) of the Communist Party of the Philippines generated a staggering P4.1billion. A huge portion of this came from construction projects where contractors have to pay a permit to operate (PTO) of P1,000 for every million worth of project and demandable even before the project starts.”
Parlade adds, “With all this money they are able to invest in radio stations, hospitals, stock market trading domestically and abroad, and revolutionary war bonds. If you think this money is big imagine that in 2011 alone, the CPP’s Community Empowerment Resource Network (Cernet) was able to generate some P6.7 billion from their approved project proposals.”
If there is a “hydra-headed legal monster” that Neri Colmenares should be worried about, it is this sure dagger into the heart of our democratic system. What good are rights if the very same freedom it generates is the very machine that subverts a system that guarantees those rights?
Past administrations have turned a blind eye on this I agree with Parlade that this huge amount of money when channeled to the armed struggle can really spell disaster.
Take it from the very mouths of the thousands that have already returned to back to communities they once left on the promises of the New Peoples Army, now to lead productive lives instead of generating their and their family’s basic needs on through the barrel of a gun.
The rule of thumb is 60 percent of these funds are taken by the party and only 40 percent spent for the intended project including supporting their forces on the ground.
How would Jose Maria Sison explain to his cadres whom he has brainwashed about a better life, that they are getting only the short end of the stick, while they risk their lives propagating terror daily to mulct for their daily subsistence?
The trouble with Pangilinan-types is that these nitwits think democracy and the rights and freedoms that go with it are the end-all be-all of human existence. That these entitlements must be upheld at all costs even if it subverts an established government.
This senator is notorious for authoring a bill enabling minors to commit crimes, even murder, without getting punished for it, not even with a slap on their wrist.
A more responsible regime ought to free its people first from want, by enabling them to be productive members of society so that they can live their other freedoms with dignity.
That individual freedoms are meaningless under the perdition of abject poverty. You cannot eat human rights.
This is why I believe that when any individual bears arms against a duly-constituted government, he loses his rights and is fair game, in the same vein that in the State of Virginia in the United States, anybody can shoot any dog moving around freely in public without a leash.
(To be continued)