Senate of the Philippines

15 senators censure NTF-ELCAC’s Parlade: ‘Progressive thinking is not communism’

Mara Cepeda

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15 senators censure NTF-ELCAC’s Parlade: ‘Progressive thinking is not communism’

HOT SEAT. Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr appears before the hybrid deliberation of Commission on Appointments last August 24, 2020.

File photo by Henzberg Austria/Senate PRIB

Senators say that by calling them stupid, NTF-ELCAC's Antonio Parlade Jr showed his 'lack of respect" for the entire Senate
15 senators censure NTF-ELCAC’s Parlade: ‘Progressive thinking is not communism’

Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr, the controversial spokesman of the government’s anti-insurgency task force, has been condemned by the Senate.

A total of 15 senators – among them the 4 highest-ranking members of the chamber – filed Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 709 on Tuesday, April 27, to “censure” Parlade for his “disrespectful, derogatory, and demeaning” statements against senators.

Parlade had insulted the legislators and called them “stupid” after several of them sought to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Insurgency (NTF-ELCAC)’s P19.1-billion budget in the wake of the spokesman’s relentless red-tagging of the community pantry organizers and other civilians. 

PSR No. 709 was primarily authored by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and was co-signed by the following:

  1. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senate President
  2. Ralph Recto, Senate President Pro-Tempore
  3. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Majority Leader
  4. Nancy Binay
  5. Pia Cayetano
  6. Leila de Lima
  7. Sherwin Gatchalian
  8. Richard Gordon
  9. Risa Hontiveros
  10. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson
  11. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan
  12. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
  13. Grace Poe
  14. Joel Villanueva

But 9 senators – all belonging to the majority bloc – did not co-sign the resolution against Parlade. They are Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Imee Marcos, Manny Pacquiao, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Francis Tolentino, and Cynthia Villar. 

The resolution of censure is the senators’ formal statement of disapproval against Parlade, though it will not have any legal consequences for the embattled NTF-ELCAC spokesman.

Still, it is yet another sign of legislators clashing with the executive branch led by President Rodrigo Duterte, under whose regime saw intensified red-tagging of government critics. 

Senators argued in PSR No. 709 that Parlade’s behavior was not helping the government’s counter-insurgency efforts. 

“Contrary to the assertions of Lt Gen Parlade, progressive thinking is not communism and expression of opinions or criticisms and purposeful involvement in humanitarian community efforts do not constitute rebellion, sedition, or terrorism,” said the senators. 

They said that if Parlade’s red-tagging of community pantry organizers was done under the policy directions of the NTF-ELCAC, then the task force has “clearly departed” from its mandate. 

This would give senators basis to realign the task force’s multi-billion funds to “more worthy causes” that benefit taxpayers, like much-needed subsidies during the coronavirus pandemic

“Instead of engaging in a constructive debate, Lt Gen.Parlade has chosen to demean and disparage the senators, through statements that display his limited grasp of Congress’ role in the budget process and show his lack of respect not just for the senators as duly-elected representatives of the people but also for the Senate as an institution,” said the senators. 

Senate vs Parlade

That the Parlade censure was supported by a majority of senators is not surprising, since the Senate as a body had urged Duterte in March to fire Parlade from the NTF-ELCAC.

Senators have repeatedly said Parlade’s appointment to the task force is unconstitutional, since Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution states that no active member of the armed forces should be appointed in any capacity to a civilian position in government.

Senators Villanueva, Recto, Binay, Poe, and Gatchalian have also filed a separate resolution calling for a probe into how the NTF-ELCAC is using its P19.1-billion budget given the “baseless” and “unsubstantiated” public claims of Parlade and its other spokesperson, Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy.

Prior this, Badoy accused the Senate employees’ union of being a front for the communist underground, sparking outrage from the employees and senators themselves.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, vice chairperson of the NTF-ELCAC, has already barred Parlade and Badoy from further issuing comments on the community pantries.

A bill is now pending in the Senate that seeks to criminalize red-tagging. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.