FIRING LINE: Machine-gun Tony

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

There are loads of “tough guy” monikers in the police and military and often they cling to cops and soldiers as an alias long after they retire. As I mention examples, movie fanatics would easily recognize some of them as action movie titles – “Magnum”, “Rambo”, Bato”, “Markang Bungo”, “Kidlat ng Maynila”, and even “Dirty Harry”.

As for Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., I wouldn’t be surprised if he rides off in the sunset with a great Western moniker like “Machine-gun Tony”. But that won’t be for killing a dozen enemies in a single strafe. No siree! It’d be more for firing away with his mouth at machine-gun action.

I see well into his good intentions when he called out actress Liza Soberano. Parlade said he was concerned that the actress is unwittingly being used by Leftist propagandists whenever she speaks out on protecting women against violence and abuse. He claims that Gabriela is a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and that she’d better bail out soon or she’d end up killed in an encounter with troops.

Assuming, for purposes of argument, that there are front organizations of the communist revolutionary movement that thrive in the country; does that make Soberano – by virtue of her common advocacies with them – a future “amazon” in fatigue clothes, holding a pistol and getting shot by soldiers in the jungle? Can’t someone like her or Angel Locsin or Catriona Gray or anyone, for that matter, champion women’s rights or at least support a group that champions it without being tagged as a communist?

Parlade says he won’t apologize to Soberano for calling her out the way he did, even if most of us saw it more of a threat than a warning and even if she had been bashed subsequently as a “communist-lover”. Aren’t soldiers supposed to be officers and gentlemen?

For a commanding general like himself with the full force of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) at his beck and call, Parlade comes from an organization trained and programmed to fight armed insurgents and quell terrorist activities. He should stick to doing that.

I don’t know whose bright idea it was to make him the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). There are 12 clusters in the NTF-ELCAC and only one of them is for security forces precisely because the government understands that a military solution will not end the 52-year-old insurgency. It requires a solution on all fronts – educational, political, socio-economic, sectoral, etc. One of the clusters is for Strategic Communications led by government communication specialists who should do all the talking – not the SOLCOM Chief.

The way this corner sees it, the more Parlade talks, the more common people and political leaders will react negatively. Instead of earning support for the NTF-ELCAC and sympathy for the military that has fought this war for too long, his offensive talk will gain the opposite result.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Parlade to “stop issuing baseless accusations if he has no evidence to back his claims” – something which reflects division if not disagreements among their ranks. Meantime, the CPP is just sitting quietly enjoying the show.

Parlade ought to be told that rights activists might not necessarily be communists or supporters of the Left. Maybe the good general can just sit in the corner and sing “I have two hands, the Left and the Rights” – but away from the microphone and social media, please.

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