“Had Parlade also done his research and listened to the oral arguments, he would have known that posts like these are what petitioners claim as evidence of a credible threat of prosecution – threat that can warrant a judicial review of the law he seeks to protect and promote.”
By DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines expressed their concern over yet another red-tagging incident of a journalist who reported on the plight of Aetas who were tortured to admitting that they are members of the New People’s Army.
The red-tagging of Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas took place just two days after petitioners against the Philippine terror law raised its dangers.
In a Facebook post, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) labeled Tupas as a propagandist over her story “Tortured Aetas seek SC help against anti-terror law.”
“Congratulations for a sloppy work Tetch Torres-Tupaz of Inquirer.net. You did not even bother to check the side of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and [government] if what you are reporting is true or fake. Propagandista. No such thing happened. That unit is not even there but in Davao,” Parlade’s Facebook post read.
Parlade’s post was referring to an August 2020 incident where Philippine soldiers allegedly detained and beat three Indigenous people in Zambales province.
However, the story penned by Torres-Tupas touches on the petition-in-intervention filed by Aeta farmers Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos on February 2, 2021 and the allegations made in that petition.
A social media user also commented in Filipino asking, “Sir, can we file charges against them?,” to which Parlade replied: “Aiding the terrorists by spreading lies? Yes.”
In another post, the lieutenant general asks if Torres-Tupas referenced “propaganda machines of the [Communist Party of the Philippines],” with an attached photo of links directing to the websites of Human Rights Watch and Kodao Productions.
The NUJP reiterated that while the government has issued reassurances that the ATA will not be used to stifle dissent or clamp down on the press, statements and actions similar to what Parlade has shown holds more value than the press statements.
The group added, “the Facebook post against Torres-Tupas, are threats directed not only at those questioning the ATA but also at those covering the controversial law.”
The NUJP expressed fears that government inaction on the threat against Tupas and on similar threats against journalists and activists would signify that the government is consenting and even endorsing such actions, contrary to the claim that the ATA will not target government critics.
Justice and Court Reporters Association (Jucra) also condemned Parlade’s threat against Tupas saying that it is “utterly unacceptable.”
In a statement the group said journalists at the justice beat also reported the same story which is based on two Aeta’s petition for intervention. “Should we all wait for threat from Parlade too?”
“Had Parlade also done his research and listened to the oral arguments, he would have known that posts like these are what petitioners claim as evidence of a credible threat of prosecution – threat that can warrant a judicial review of the law he seeks to protect and promote,” JUCRA said in a statement.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia also said Parlade’s threat against Tupas is validating the myriad of objections and criticisms against the ATA.