Aside from Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares, other members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives are also under military surveillance, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. revealed on Monday.
Parlade, commander of the Southern Luzon Command and spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, has in the past referred to Makabayan as the “Kamatayan Bloc.”
He has drawn heavy criticism from activist and rights organizations for issuing a veiled threat to actress Liza Soberano and former Miss Universe Catriona Gray that they are treading dangerous waters by fraternizing with a group, which he described as a communist front.
“It is not only Neri Colmenares [who is under surveillance], but also other members of the [Makabayan] bloc,” Parlade said in a TV interview.
He linked the members of the bloc to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
He cited the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and Presidential Proclamation 374 as the basis for his allegations, although he admitted that he still had to collect evidence before filing charges in court.
Proclamation 374, issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017, declared the CPP, National Democratic Front and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.
Parlade said he was more than sure of his claims.
“They have had so many colleagues before that are now with us explaining to us how it works in the organization,” he said.
Last week, the general said Soberano and Gray participated in a forum organized by women’s group Gabriela Youth.
He also warned actress Angel Locsin against coddling her sister, Ella Colmenares, whom Parlade claimed was an NPA member. Locsin has since disputed his claim.
Colmenares said he is consi-dering suing Parlade and others involved in the “red-tagging” of personalities, after Duterte ends his term in 2022.
The former Bayan Muna representative said it would be hard for them to pursue charges against Parlade while Duterte is still in power.
“We are considering filing cases against them…the problem is this, under President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s administration, all checks and balances institutions [are intimidated]. Not just Congress, not just the judiciary, but you know, all checks and balances institutions,” Colmenares said in a separate TV interview.
Colmenares, a human rights lawyer, said the claim of Parlade that he is under military surveillance is a form of harassment.
“If you are under surveillance, why say it publicly?” he said. “So, I think the intention is to threaten me.”