Sen. Panfilo Lacson rebuffed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana after the defense chief insisted that the designation of Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as spokesperson of the Duterte’s administration’s anti-insurgency task force is not unconstitutional.

“Del, please read the composition of NTF-ELCAC under EO No. 70 s 2018. It is a civilian task force. Then read Art XVI Sec 5(4) of the 1987 Constitution and correct yourself,” tweeted Lacson.

Lacson was referring to President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict NTF-Elcac. Under the EO, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is a member of the task force.

However, the Senate earlier recommended the removal of Parlade as NTF-Elcac spokesman because his appointment allegedly violates the Constitution according to the senators.

The Senate alleges that Parlade’s appointment is in violation of Article 16, Section 5 of the Constitution banning any active member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from holding a civilian position in the government.

Lorenzana, a retired army general, said that Parlade’s appointment is a “very complicated one” since the “main effort” of the task force is led by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines of which Parlade is a member.

“Kami ang involved diyan. We are involved here. Kung tanggaling mo ‘yang si General Parlade ay tanggalin mo na rin kami diyan, ‘yung Armed Forces,” he said in a virtual briefing.

He added that Parlade’s expertise is “being utilized” as the spokesman of the task force.

“The main effort of the task force is being led by the PNP and the AFP and General Parlade is part of the AFP so his expertise is being utilized as a spokesman of the NTF-Elcac,” he said.

“Wala akong nakikitang violation of the Constitution,” he added.

After a series of hearings on red-tagging, the Senate defense panel, chaired by Lacson, criticized Parlade for his “reckless and negligent propaganda wars ” ultimately undermine the government’s counter-insurgency campaign.  Rommel F. Lopez