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HRW: Parlade probe should be start of larger efforts vs red-tagging under Duterte

Human Rights Watch said on Thursday, June 11, that the probe into Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr's red-tagging of a journalist should just be the start of a continuing effort to address the widespread attacks against democratic in the Philippines.

"The military’s investigation into Parlade should be both thorough and impartial, and this should be the start of larger efforts to hold to account all government officials who give a wink and a nod to extrajudicial killings by their red-tagging," HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana confirmed that Parlade is under investigation after he red-tagged Inquirer.net reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas over a story she wrote on the anti-terror law-related petition of jailed Aetas before the Supreme Court.

This is not the first time that Parlade was under fire for his baseless accusations that he often aired on social media. He has red-tagged activists, students, and journalists; and called out actress Angel Locsin for supporting her sister, Ella Colmenares, whom he red-tagged at a Senate hearing last year.

But while Parlade often engaged in attacking activists and critics online, HRW highlighted that he is not the only one in the government doing this.

"The problem does not start and stop with Parlade," Robertson said. "President Rodrigo Duterte has frequently used red-tagging to attack leftist critics of his administration. "

The President himself has engaged in maliciously tagging his critics as communist rebels, often in his public speeches – a part of the government's wider efforts against the communist insurgency. (READ: Duterte ushers in new level of danger for activists, human rights defenders)

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which Parlade is a part of, is on top of the massive online red-tagging too.

In a June 2020 report, the United Nations human rights office said that the red-tagging spree of the Duterte government "posed a serious threat to civil society and freedom of expression."

Data in 2020 from Karapatan show that at least 318 individuals have been killed "in the course of the Philippine government’s implementation of its counterinsurgency program” since 2016. – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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