Military to investigate Parlade’s comments vs. journo — Lorenzana

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 8)— Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct an investigation on a military official’s recent remarks and prosecution threat against a journalist.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Lorenzana admitted Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. may have “overstepped” with his comments about reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas. The defense chief said he has directed the AFP leadership to talk to Parlade so that a similar incident may be prevented in the future.

“Maybe he overstepped [with] what he was doing but I’m going to let the new Chief of Staff deal with him,” Lorenzana said in an interview with The Source.Sila muna mag-usap (they would have to talk first on) how to address this concern from the journalist and from the media about these accusations.”

“We will investigate, and find out if he deserves to be punished, if disciplinary action will be imposed upon him,” he added.

Parlade, chief of the Southern Luzon Command who also serves as spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, called Torres-Tupas a “propagandist” over an article she wrote on two Aetas seeking to join petitions against the anti-terrorism law. The report contained the Aetas’ narration they were tortured by the military and falsely charged of terrorism.

This legal document was used by Torres-Tupas and other journalists in reporting about the 38th petition filed against the Anti-Terrorism Act, but Parlade accused her of using as reference “propaganda machines” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which the executive Anti-Terrorism Council has designated as a terrorist organization. Parlade said in a Facebook comment that Torres-Tupas may be held liable under the law for "aiding the terrorists by spreading lies.”

RELATED: Lawyers, journalists call out Parlade comment vs. reporter as 'credible threat' under anti-terrorism law

Lorenzana said he has talked to Parlade regarding the matter, with the latter saying he has evidence to prove that no torture took place. He said Parlade also wanted to have his side of the story published.

“Very thin line ‘yung freedom of expression and aiding the terrorists,” Lorenzana said. “So maybe let us also look at that dahil kawawa naman si General Parlade na ina-accuse siya nang ganoon, when in fact that what he’s saying could be right. We’ll talk to him closely.”

[Translation: There’s a very thin line between freedom of expression and aiding the terrorists. So maybe let us also look at that because it would be a pity for General Parlade that he’s being accused such, when in fact what he’s saying could be right. We’ll talk to him closely.]

He also advised the two camps to meet in person to hopefully resolve issues between them. “Nothing could not be resolved by talking to each other,” he added.