I wish I could say that his bark is worse than his bite as a way of defending the integrity of an esteemed general who commands the military force historically known as (and still plausibly so) the great defender of our nation’s capital. But the mouth that has seemed to keep up with his head’s growth has made Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. sound less and less sensible or credible.
The last time I called him out in this column, I gave him the moniker “Machine-gun Tony” for firing his mouth off in the crudest of ways against Liza Soberano, Catriona Gray, and Angel Locsin, either directly tagging them or their advocacy partners as “communist-terrorists”. None of these ladies, of course, are any such thing. They are, to say the least, outstanding citizens with strong involvement in socio-civic work. Yet, they’ve gotten no apologies from the fine officer and gentleman.
Recently, Parlade cocked and fired again through social media – this time, attacking Inquirer.net reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas and calling her a “propagandist” for the Reds. He singlehandedly interprets the Anti-Terrorism law as a tool to prosecute the journalist for merely reporting the complaint filed before the Supreme Court by two Aetas accused by the military of being rebels. I believe Machine-gun Tony has not heard of “not shooting the messenger”.
There are 37 petitions before the SC against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) amid growing public sentiment that it might be a tool for abuse and militarization. The government has a lot of convincing to do as the oral arguments begin. More than addressing local insurgency and terrorist threats, ATA proponents underscored its importance to our global engagements, including avoiding international financial blacklisting if our technical capability to stop the laundering of terrorists’ dirty money is weak.
But thanks to Parlade, the arguments of those against the ATA have been bolstered each time he invokes the law against student activists, celebrities, elected officials, indigenous people, and now, journalists!
Machine-gun Tony has fueled a firestorm by “terrorizing” people who legally raise questions about the ATA or even just report about dissent for the law. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in his tweet, slammed Parlade’s latest tirade as such: “It multiplies our problems of global perception in the capitals of the civilized world.”
Well, congratulations to Gen. Parlade! He has just made himself the poster boy for the ATA. But that doesn’t earn him “pogi” points from Sen. Panfilo Lacson, principal sponsor of the law. Even he thinks the general is killing its chances of acceptability each time he opens his red-tagging mouth – calling it “uncalled for and totally unnecessary”.
It almost seems like Parlade is power-tripping as if the stars I’m sure he’s rightfully earned on his shoulder and being Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) chief were not enough. Has his bitter distaste for communists blinded his better judgment every occasion he speaks as the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC?
Perhaps, he should be reminded that the NTF-ELCAC was created and headed by President Duterte himself as a diplomatic solution to the armed insurgency by using a “whole-of-nation approach” for an inclusive and sustainable framework towards attaining peace. Following that mission, there should be no place in the NTF-ELCAC for hate or any of Parlade’s soldier-boy bravado.
I suggest that instead of biting the bullet each time, Machine-gun Tony should just count from 1 to 10 and bite his tongue.