By Lt. Gen Antonio Parlade Jr.
THE petitioners, securing a temporary restraining order against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) are genuinely eager to stop the law by raising as many baseless charges as perceived like threats, arrests and continued violations of constitutional rights.
They aver that the best time to stop the law was yesterday. I don’t think these groups are considering the entire nation in saying this. The number of petitions, which reached 37, is not a good representation of the majority of our citizens’ sentiments.
Given the number of responses from the netizens who support the approval of the law, which is around 85 percent, according to analytics, I would rather say that the best time to stop terrorism was yesterday.
After more than 50,000 deaths from the carnage that these Islamic State inspired attacks by the Abu Sayyaff Group, Jemmah Islamiyah, and the communist terrorist Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) brought to us, we finally have a law, better than the inutile Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, that will protect our citizens more.
The safety and security of the vast majority must come first, rather than being taken hostage by those few noisy interest groups who are trying to tell the judges, ”Hello, our rights are more important than others.”
No, we cannot let the reign of terror continue, especially as more evidence of child warrior exploitation is unfolding before our eyes. How many more children are out there, who are being radicalized in some hidden “bakwit” centers by fake activists like Chad Booc of Alcadev?
To be clear, we have nothing against genuine activists and dissenters, but after having a clearer understanding of what “revolutionary dual tactics” of the CPP is all about, we would be stupid enough to allow this USC incident to pass as just another minor episode again. Remember the kidnapping case of Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna and France Castro of ACT in Talaingod, Davao del Norte in 2018? That case was completely dismissed, regardless of whether it was a prima case of trafficking underaged Manobo children.
So, why did it take us 14 years to amend the HSA of 2007 and pass a law that actually addresses this serious problem of terrorism, particularly by the CPP-NPA-NDF? Part of the answer is this red-tagging that the Senate committee on public order, safety and security heard over the past year.
In fact, red-tagging or red-baiting has prevented the state, particularly the legislators, from passing a law that will criminalize the terrorist acts of people hiding under the cover of activism. The CPP propaganda prevented the state, especially its legislators, from doing their job. The CPP has designed them through its propaganda media network in a way that a hint of red-tagging from any government official will be viciously attacked by its allies.
The CPP narrative is so pervasive that any attempt to expose these liars will be met with ferocious attacks of red-tagging. This has happened to me in the case of Liza Soberano and Angel Locsin.
But it clearly exposes how the media sensationalizes the issue by twisting facts and words, framing the narrative in such a way as to weaken the position of the target (me, in this case) and is followed through by a barrage of verbal, literary and social media attacks to drown out the particular target.
As if in chorus, the CPP machinery embedded in television, radio, print and social media platforms rallied against me using all kinds of narrative tactics, including insinuations of legal action, and hoping to pin me down for red-tagging.
This is a strategy that the CPP has used, through its collective alliances and sympathizers, who allowed themselves to be used, wittingly and unwittingly, for their own parochial agenda and interests. It can be politics, votes, popularity, or even profit. If you are a weakling, a careerist, a politician, or all of the above, you would not dare go that route.
If you are not equipped with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the dynamics involved in this propaganda war of the CPP, you will simply sulk in a corner and be consumed with your apathy.
But we all know that I was not the target. I just happen to be one of the spokespersons of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac). We all know that the target was President Rodrigo Duterte for being the man that he is.
A realist, the kind of leader who can say no to the excesses of our much-abused liberal values. A statesman, rather than a politician, who puts the interest of the state above political ambitions. That is the reason why I was, and am, being targeted.
It is not about me and so I will not bow down in acquiescence or stand down in deference to the ulterior motives of people around him, including the high-ranking Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leaders who see me as a threat to whatever it is they aspire for. That can be a subject of an entire series once I retire.
Going back to red-tagging, that tactic or strategy of the left is passé. The Senate committee report is out and they have unanimously agreed that there is no need to criminalize red-tagging because there are enough laws to be invoked if there are infringements.
As to the petitioners against the ATA, we simply cannot agree with them that this violates our constitutional rights. It is a figment of their imagination. We will forever protect these rights on free speech, press, religion, assembly, etc. As a member of the AFP, that has always been primordial and integral in our mission statement and task allocation to our troops.
But these rights are not exclusive to the left. The state also has the right and obligation to defend the safety and security of the other sectors of the society who only wish peace and prosperity for this country.
If we qualify the exercise of these rights as a “truthful” exercise of free speech — “responsible” expression of press freedom; right to privacy unless it’s for the national interest; academic freedom that is not exclusive to Marxist and communist beliefs; peaceful assembly that does not call for violence; or association that renounces violence and armed struggle — then those 37 petitions would probably be down to one or two.
The Liza Soberano controversy took only one thing to shoot down detractors — a thank you note from the Liza camp to me. The Senate inquiry on red-tagging took only the words and revelations of former cadres to confirm what we in NTF-Elcac have been saying about these CPP lies and propaganda.
These petitions against the ATA will only take a discerning magistrate to decide on its merits. Then we will all know that the ATA should have been implemented yesterday.
As for these ducks, who walk and quack like ducks, we just have to continue calling them for what they are: kwek-wek.