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Journalists close ranks, hit back at Parlade for threatening reporter

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Feb 04, 2021 7:34 am Updated Feb 04, 2021 8:12 am

Journalist groups have issued statements denouncing the threat of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. to sue a reporter, whom she also tagged as a propagandist, because of a story she wrote.

In a public Facebook post, Parlade targeted Tetch Torres-Tupas of for her story regarding Aetas who filed a petition at the Supreme Court after being reportedly tortured by a division of the Philippine Army. The petitioners were also allegedly forced to admit to being members of the New People’s Army.

“Propagandista. No such thing happened,” Parlade wrote in his post.

Parlade also threatened to sue.

When someone asked if cases could be filed, he replied “Aiding the terrorists by spreading lies? PUEDE.”

"We condemn the threat of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. to sue our reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas for her report," said in a statement. “ takes vigorous exception to the apparent red-tagging of our reporter and expresses alarm over Parlade’s attempt to sow fear, stifle dissent and curtail her right to make truthful and objective reports."

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines also denounced Parlade, but noted that what Torres-Tupas actually did was just to report on a petition filed before the Supreme Court, which forms part of her job as a courts reporter.

NUJP, however, said that the incident highlights the danger that could be borne from the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

“Government inaction on the threat against Torres-Tupas and on similar statements and threats against activists and journalists means government consent and even endorsement of those actions and belies the claim that the law does not target criticism and dissent,” NUJP said.

The Justice and Court Reporters Association (JUCRA), of which Torres-Tupas is a member, said the incident “is utterly unacceptable.”

Like NUJP, JUCRA also noted that Torres-Tupas merely did her job.

“Had Parlade done the basic due diligence of reading the report, he would have known that Tupas based her article on a petition filed at the Supreme Court,” said JUCRA.

“JUCRA members also reported the Aetas’ petition for intervention, based on the same Supreme court pleading. Should we all wait for a threat from Parlade, too?” the group asked. “Is the general suggesting that justice reporters are supporters of terrorists?”

“Parlade’s cluelessness notwithstanding, we demand the general to apologize to Tupas,” the group added.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers President Edre Olalia, meanwhile, called Parlade “incorrigibly remorseless.”

“In spite of all the flak and red-faced foul-ups in the red-tagging fixation, Gen. Parlade unrelentingly and brazenly bullies and irresponsibly attacks anyone but anyone who does not fit snugly into his predilections and prejudices,” said Olalia.

This is not the first time that Parlade, who heads the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, has tagged someone in public with ties to the communist party.

Last year, he red-tagged celebrities such as Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray, and refused to apologized even after reaping scorn and condemnation.