Inquirer justice reporter red-tagged by NTF-ELCAC spox

CMFR/Philippines — Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., the spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), red-tagged’s justice beat reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas on his Facebook page last 3 February 2021 for the latter’s report on the petition of jailed Aetas before the Supreme Court.

Calling Tupas’ report “fake” and “propaganda,” Parlade said that a journalist can be held liable under the anti-terror law for “aiding terrorists by spreading lies.”

Tupas merely reported the content of the petition, including the allegations of Aetas that members of the military tortured them for six days. She noted on February 2 that two Aeta men, Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos—the first to be accused of violating the antiterror law—joined other petitioners, saying they were victims of illegal arrest and torture by Army soldiers from the 73rd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) in August last year in Zambales province.

Journalists covering the Philippine justice beat said that Parlade’s Facebook posts against their colleague posed a credible threat of prosecution under the contentious anti-terror law.

In a statement on February 4, the Justice and Court Reporters Association (JUCRA) strongly condemned Parlade’s threat to sue Tupas, one of its members, for allegedly providing support to terrorists.

JUCRA further said that Parlade’s threat against Tupas “are what petitioners claim as evidence of a credible threat of prosecution – a threat that can warrant a judicial review of the law he seeks to protect and promote.”

In a separate statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)  said that Parlade’s posts, not just against Tupas, prove that threats are not only directed “at those questioning the Anti-Terror Act but also at those covering those questioning the controversial law.” also stood by its reporter and slammed Parlade’s red-tagging. In a statement, the news outfit said it “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.

In the past, Parlade had red-tagged several personalities and organizations in his Facebook account, including local celebrities and the country’s top universities and prominent anti-terror law petitioners.

Petitioners argue that Parlade continues to “commit terrorism by endangering their lives and creating an atmosphere of fear.”