Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade told Pinky Webb in an interview that, “IF the senators defund ELCAC, they were stupid!”
Fifteen senators including the majority floor leader and former president of the ruling party, immediately reacted and signed a resolution to censure National Task Force to End Local Communist Insurgency spokesperson, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr.
Parlade’s statement was conditional, but the 15 senators legislated it upon themselves, making it categorical by their own admission.
The senators did not like Parlade’s crisp repartee to Senator Dick Gordon idea to deprive the government’s main counter-insurgency body for “red-tagging” the communists and its New People’s Army and members of the legal fronts of the CPP-NPA.
Senator Dick and the rest of the 14 senators were obviously oblivious to the fact that NTF-ELCAC had made an unprecedented breakthrough in curbing the spread of the radical insurgency with the surrender of hundreds of NPAs to include their firearms and hidden arms cache.
As I write this piece, the Regional Trial Court of Davao issued warrants of arrests to religious leaders and so-called “volunteer teachers” in a holding area called UCCP Haran that had taken hostage children of indigenous people. The IPs were allegedly subjected to indoctrination and used in protest rallies.
Haran operates like the alternative schools called “Salugpungan” in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. The school was closed after Satur Ocampo and some Party List leaders were arrested while escorting several IP children in an unholy hour. The kids, it turned out later, were taught how to dismantle and assemble Armalite rifles. The indoctrination is such that the impressionable children are incensed against the government.
Sadly, Majority Floor Leader Migz Zubiri and former PDP-Laban President Koko Pimentel are not aware that some of the IPs in Haran and Salugpungan are from their political domain. I can excuse detained Leila de Lima for her world revolved around her cell now and the “kubols” in the state penitentiary which she had frequented when she was Justice Secretary.
Frank Drilon, who authored the resolution, was simply ignorant of the fact that on the Island of Panay alone over 250 NPAs and supporters had surrendered. In Negros, where sporadic ambuscades were staged by the armed rebels, several NPA leaders and their followers had given up.
In Davao de Oro, 26 active NPAs which comprise one guerilla front surrendered and turned over their firearms while several towns in Davao Oriental which used to be a spawning ground of the NPAs had been declared insurgent free. In Agusan del Norte, 24 NPA combatants surrendered over the weekend.
I would of course give credit to our brave soldiers, police forces, and local government officials for these unprecedented numbers of surrenderers not to mention those who were killed and captured.
Moreover, behind the successful campaign against the Red Army and scores of surrenderers is the imperceptible role of the NTF-ELCAC.
How else can one describe the idea of Gordon to defund NTF-ELCAC just because General Parlade tagged the political-legal fronts and their CPP-NPA covert supporters “Red”?
In fact, Parlade was referring only to the ‘defund’ move as “stupid” and never named Dick or any senator for that matter as such.
Unwittingly, 15 members of the Upper Chamber of the Philippine Congress had unmasked themselves. They were never mentioned or attributed to as being stupid but surprise of all surprises they felt alluded to and took offense.
Aside from senators already mentioned, those who voted to sanction Parlade are Kiko Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Nancy Binay, and Ralph Recto who will vote for anything against the administration rightly or wrongly anyway; Ping Lacson, who despite his training in the military academy, obviously does not understand what counter-propaganda means; Joel Villanueva and Sherwin Gatchalian are simply totally clueless about what Parlade had been doing and achieved; Grace Poe and Pia Cayetano think that all these things about the CPP-NPA and the Reds are just in FPJ movies and the Little Red Hen.
Interestingly, these senators describe the legal fronts and leftist activists as “progressive”? Since when did sympathizers of terrorist organizations become progressive when they espouse and support subversive movements that contribute nothing to improve the government but by the use of arms overthrow it?
Have they become another phalanx of Jose Maria Sison’s legal fronts? I can just imaging the octogenarian anarchist deliriously cheering in the comfort of his home in Utrecht, Netherland. #
Rejoinder: Senator Lacson replies
This letter to the Executive Director of the Philippine News Agency where the unedited original of Mr. Ledesma’s opinion appeared was truncated for brevity:
“First: Sen. Lacson’s basis for seeking the relief of Lt. Gen. Parlade stems from no less than the basic law of the land. Under Art. XVI, Sec. 5, Paragraph 4 of the 1987 Constitution: ‘No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.’
“The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), chaired by the President, can hardly be considered a military agency.
“Second: Mr. Ledesma made a big deal out of counter-propaganda. Last time we checked, propaganda and counter-propaganda both seek to win over the hearts and minds of their targeted audiences.
“Has ever occurred to Mr. Ledesma that Lt. Gen. Parlade has also become a “liability” to the overall efforts of the government, as well as the government’s position on the pending 37 petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 before the Supreme Court, mainly due to his careless remarks and flawed interpretation of certain provisions of the law?”
Editor’s post mortem
Wrong twice over.
The first is a non-sequitur. The military by order of Executive Order 70 is part of the whole-nation inter-agency task force, in the same way that military personnel are part of the National Risk Reduction and Monitoring Council. Senator Lacson has never complained about the role of the military in disaster assistance. In fact, since this function involves the national security, ELCAC cannot be truly effective if it excludes the military because by another Constitutional provision, “the Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the state.”
In fact, in invoking this Constitution’s Article XVI Section 5 Paragraph 4, Senator Lacson, a legislator, is totally out of his bounds in that instead of expressing his irrelevant opinion, he should seek the interpretation of the Supreme Court, to whom this Constitutional function has been mandated.
Secondly, there is no connection between the 37 petitions filed against the ATA of 2020 and the remarks of General Parlade. What is pending in the Supreme Court are matters of the fancy details that Senator Lacson has forwarded, as it is a forum for laws not facts. As senator, certainly not for the first trerm but many times over, Panfilo Lacson ought to know about this.
The senator is best advised that the reason why the CPP-NPA-NDF or communist terrorists have won an upper ground from 1986 upon the assumption of Corazon Aquino to power to the political demise of her son Noynoy in 2016, is that the anti-insurgency policies of the failed past five presidents was to confine the soldier to the barracks, while the politicians strike counterproductive deals at the national peace table.
The twinning of the National Task Force for the Elimination of Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC under EC70) and before it the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP under Administrative 10), known on the ground as “Balik-Loob”, is now processing more than 16,000 surrenderees and their families before entering a new beginning in their respective communities.
The General Appropriation Act has also enabled a direct infusion of economic and social development funds to 882 former terrorist-infested barangays, for farm-to-market, agricultural increments and equipment, skills and management training, capital assistance and loans, housing and education for family members, and other empowerment mechanisms.
Senator Lacson, it appears, has not adjusted to the emerging changes in our governance system that has been going on for the past five years, locked in the comfort zones he has enjoyed in patronage politics.