By (Ret.) Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. / The Manila Times
IT has been almost a year now since the ruckus that resulted from statements I issued cautioning celebrities that the Kamatayan bloc, through Gabiela, uses them in an effort to make it appear that they are associated.
And what I mean here is that it is the Kamatayan bloc trying to associate themselves with the celebrities and not the other way around.
This has to be emphasized because that is exactly the way some members of the media play with their words to project a scenario to sell to the naïve to achieve their objective of confusion. This is the area of expertise of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) propagandists.
And right on cue, the templates for response of the CPP came into play because soon after I issued this cautionary warning, mainstream media - including print and TV - descended on me. Everyone, including some of my colleagues in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), thought that was my end.
This is how Jason Gutierrez packaged his news that ended up in the New York Times, to what end we don't know yet. In retrospect though, I want to dissect his piece entitled "Outcry in Philippines over general's 'warning' to female celebrities." But to those who have no idea what this was all about, it is the story of exploitation by the CPP of famous personalities, in the hope of drawing their followers and fans to their advocacies as their starting point and eventually rouse, organize and mobilize them into getting involved not only in activism but in violent terrorism.
This was the story of Maita Gomez, a beauty queen and campus leader who ended up joining the CPP/New People's Army (NPA). This is the story of Joan Lapira and Jane Vargas, beautiful and talented youth leaders who were baited to join Gabriela-Youth and eventually ended up getting killed with the NPA. This is the story of thousands more of very young clueless girls who were led to the CPP/NPA dungeons by their Gabriela, Kabataan, Anakpawis recruiters, and then left to be sexually violated by their leaders. All of these were rampantly happening in the past, right under our noses, because your government kept mum in exposing this evil. They became prey to these monsters because of our apathy. Activism? Women and children's rights? Yeah, right, tell me about it.
This is the story of another vile attempt to trap a new prey, actress Liza Soberano, together with her "apolitical" fans by inviting her to a webinar on a topic close to most of our hearts, women and children's rights. It would have been a carefully executed ploy to draw Liza into the trap, except netizens at that time were already enlightened and knew that Gabriela was a front of the terrorist organization CPP/NPA/National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF).
I read the comments and saw how Soberano was being bashed simply because she was one of the speakers invited by Gabriela-Youth. She was already being accused of being a communist terrorist, among many things, which we know is not true, and so I came to her rescue and gave her fair warning. It was not fair to her, nor will it be fair for her fans to be lured to these Gabriela-Youth and end up dead in Samar, Mindoro, Batangas, Palawan, or Quezon, just like what happened to many of those who joined earlier.
One point I would like to say now is that the target of that article is no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, his alleged reign of terror, and his alleged misogyny. We know now that there is a campaign in the US to discredit the administration of Duterte through the Liberal Party network of politicians and oligarchs strongly connected also in the Philippines. At that time, Soberano was also in the US, hence the timing of this report.
Gutierrez starts his article with Soberano's being threatened online by a basher with rape and then attaches my Facebook post warning her of being careful dealing with this organization Gabriela-Youth. Gutierrez though wrote that the general "directed his criticism not at the remarks made by the actress, Liza Soberano, but at the forum where she made them: an online discussion on the rights of women and girls organized by the youth wing of Gabriela, a women's rights groups that the military claims is tied to communist guerrillas (Gabriela denies the accusation)."
Along with the media in the Philippines, this reporter would like to make it appear that it is state policy that tyrants in the country are against women and there is suppression and restriction of people's free speech, and of their beliefs and advocacies and that my comments "reflected hostility towards women prevalent in Duterte's government." Gutierrez even cites the statement of a member of the Commission on Human Rights Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana and Soberano's lawyer, Jun Lim, who allegedly accused me of "red tagging" her, i.e. accusing her of being a communist.
At that point we can already discern that there is malice in all these statements.
Gutierrez also mentions other celebrities I have included in my post, like Catriona Gray, who I had personally worked on to be invited at the general headquarters to be given recognition in 2019, not only because she is my schoolmate and kababayan, but also an ambassador for peace.
Did I threaten these celebrities? It sounded like I told them: Stop associating yourselves with these Kamatayan bloc or I will kill you. If these media had their way, that's the distorted message they wanted to be heard. And so, Sen. Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros would base her statements on this wrong premise to accuse me of using my power as general and for threatening these women. Echoing her rants is of course Rep. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela who said that their "20 years of advancing women and children's rights inside and outside of Congress cannot be smeared" by the government's repeated lies.
Clearly there was no threat. A warning perhaps, like you do when you see kids swimming in the filthy canals of Manila, or when you warn golfers to be careful when there is heavy lightning. Lim would even go the extra mile to reach out to me to express her client Soberano's gratitude for defending her. And clearly, there was no red-tagging, as the Senate inquiry would later determine.
Yet stupid politicians continue to accuse me of red- tagging these celebrities. Media, in my interviews, will insist I red-tagged celebrities. Pa epal?
A year after that incident let us see how everything panned out.
First, I have retired without having to face Hontiveros who threatened to block my next appointment in the Commission on Appointments, as if I was aiming for the post of CGPA or CSAFP. I repeat, Madame Senator, that not all officers aspire to become generals, let alone be the top boss of their organizations. Some simply want to do their part in rebuilding this country, to accomplish our mission. But you are also right, most are over ambitious to want to and so they would not dare rock the boat. That is the sad story of your AFP, that is partly why this insurgency reached this level.
Second, the Senate hearing on this red-tagging accusation went well for us, after all our accusations about these Red Kamatayan bloc were corroborated by living witnesses and supported by voluminous documents, photos and videos of Gabriela's association with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Third, the Senate absolved me of any wrongdoing, with the Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto confirming that "there is value to what General Parlade was alleging" about this Kamatayan bloc.
Fourth, that the CPP and their allies are hurt, and this was exacerbated when the Senate "celebrities" jumped into the fray for an inquiry that only confirmed the collusion of these senators with these Red colleagues in the House of Representatives. (What else can you deduce when instead of pressuring the leftist bloc to denounce violence and the CPP/NPA, they twisted the arm of the NTF-Elcac [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict] by insisting that my designation in the NTF-Elcac was unconstitutional and that I should be sacked or else we face problem with our budget deliberations.)
Fifth, there are six additional civilian spokespersons who are free to do what I have been doing but are no longer accused of red-tagging, because we have all realized that sharing the truth is not red-tagging.
Sixth, I have resigned my position, but more importantly we have proven that the Senate's issue was not really about the unconstitutionality of active AFP members in the NTF-Elcac because in truth dozens more of active AFP remain in the NTF-Elcac.
Seventh, Gabriela is now facing a strong case at the Comelec, which may result in its eventually being disqualified for violating Comelec rules, particularly on the issue of receiving foreign funding. As to its involvement in the armed struggle, just like we have witnessed with the death of Gabriela-Youth members Vargas and Lapira in armed engagement with government troops, that will certainly be another proof for its disqualification. However, I will be happy to see them go down, not for violation of some election rules, but for being proscribed as a terrorist organization, including their colleagues in the NDF. That for sure should lock them behind bars forever in order to keep our children and women safer.
So, yes, right, Gabriela goes down in history as a terrorist organization and a terrorist recruiter.
Going back to this writer Gutierrez and his New York Times article, I read this post about John Swinton, former chief of staff of the "most powerful and prestigious newspaper on earth, the New York Times, when asked to give a toast to the "free press" at the NY Press Club. Swinton practically admitted what we have been suspecting all along about some media, when he said: "There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with...The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread...We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men."
For this I wish to proclaim how happy I am with The Manila Times. I can write my pieces freely and see them in print as well. Others are not as lucky with their papers.