AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Major Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. (left) and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (right)
MANILA -- Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Major Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., on Thursday chided Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate for calling him a liar after asserting that the Makabayan bloc did not show up in an inquiry in Davao City to validate allegations against the Salugpungan school in Davao, which is reportedly used by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) to turn the youth against the government.
"They are from Mindanao but they didn't come because the truth will expose their duplicity and deception," the AFP official said, referring to the members of the Makabayan bloc.
"They sent instead a SELDAP representative and some Karapatan personnel to go peep and see if we were indeed there. The Makabayan representatives never entered and left the DepEd (Department of Education) compound after a while," he added.
Parlade said he traveled all the way from Manila to attend the first leg of the ocular inspection in Davao City called for by the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, that was rescheduled on April 16 from April 11.
The postponement was contained in a letter dated April 8, 2019 by Committee chairperson, Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse c. Mangaoang, signed by Committee Secretary Adora P. Pueblos.
Mangaoang needed to attend to emergency medical concerns in his province thus, the postponement.
Authorities want the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) shut down following allegations that it is being used as recruitment and training grounds of the CPP-NPA.
The reported growing number of IP students joining the ranks of the communist group through the alleged operating grounds disguised as private schools and the continuing violations of IP rights in their ancestral domains prompted the Committee to go on ocular inspection.
Zarate, as cited by online website MindaNews, said they did not receive an invitation to join the supposed investigation.
Belying this claim, Parlade said he hopes Zarate "reads his letters in his office or at least his staff should do their job" to inform him.
"Let Congress remind him of the letters of invitation and his letter requesting for postponement," he added.
Based on another House Committee letter from Mangaoang dated April 11, only the April 25 ocular inspection has been requested postponed by Zarate as the latter said "he will not be able to attend the congressional activity due to tight schedule of prior arranged activities and campaign sortie events."
There are supposed to be three ocular inspections to validate the reported recruitment of indigenous people and continuing violation against their rights: one was in Davao, the second and third are in Surigao del Sur (April 25) and Bukidnon (May 9).
The Surigao del Sur leg is expected to be pushed through between May 24-25.
Parlade also rued the death of Datu Kaylo Bontulan, head of PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao, a group supportive of the Salugpungan. Bontulan was reportedly killed in an encounter between government troops and communist rebels in Barangay Kipilas, Kitaotao, Bukidnon on April 7.
"Zarate and Socia Welfare Undersecretary Luz Ilagan have been meeting with Datu Kaylo Bontulan to defend the closure of these schools through their program, 'Save our communist Schools' or SOS," he said.
Parlade said Bontulan and PASAKA were extensions of the NPA.
"Datu and the PASAKA were clearly an extension of the NPA, Datu being the head of the Militia ng Bayan in the boundaries of Bukidnon. His body was recovered with his bandoleer and firearms. So, Zarate and Ilagan, can you condemn these PASAKA members who have been killing their fellow lumads and report them as the work of government forces?"
Parlade dared the Makabayan bloc to attend the next congressional inquiry "and let the whole world know what else have you been hiding from them."
Parlade earlier challenged left-leaning organizations in the House of Representatives, including Bayan Muna, to condemn the atrocities of the NPA.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)