Human rights group Karapatan has asked the Commission on Human Right to withhold clearances for the retirement of Lieutenant General Antonio G. Parlade, Jr., seen here receiving his 3rd star in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Feb. 27, 2020, as he is currently facing criminal and administrative complaints for red-tagging human rights activists while working with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict . -- AFP Public Affairs Office

Human rights group Karapatan asked the Philippines’ human rights commission to withhold clearances for the retirement of Lieutenant General Antonio G. Parlade, Jr., saying the former anti-communist task force’s spokesman is currently facing criminal and administrative complaints for red-tagging human rights activists.

In a letter sent to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson José Luis Martín Gascon on Friday, Kaparatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay noted that Mr. Parlade “is facing criminal and administrative complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman” for violating provisions of Republic Act No. 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, and the Ombudsman Act of 1989.

The complaints were filed by Ms. Palabay on Dec. 4 last year. The 40-page complaint also implicated other government officials, including National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Executive Director Mocha J. Uson, and former undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Marie T. Badoy.

The complaint cites various instances when the respondents allegedly committed “acts that malign, vilify and baselessly red-tag Karapatan’s officers and members.”

The complaint said the respondents’ red-tagging of Ms. Palabay, the group itself, and its members and officers violate the principle of distinction under international and domestic humanitarian law.

Other civic leaders allegedly tagged as communists by Mr. Parlade and other government officials also filed similar petitions last year.

“The CHR should take note of these complaints which implicate Parlade in war crimes and human rights violations, and they should withhold clearances for his retirement,” Ms. Palabay said.

“Allowing Parlade to walk away scot-free amid the pending cases against him and allegations on his hand in various atrocities and human rights violations would be tantamount to impunity,” she said. “We cannot let him get away with targeting activists and human rights defenders and endangering our lives and safety.”

Mr. Parlade, who resigned from the government’s anti-communist task force ahead of his retirement, has been controversial for tagging civic leaders and media personalities critical of the government as communist fronts.

The Senate earlier recommended the immediate relief of Mr. Parlade from his duty as spokesman of the task force, citing a provision in the 1987 Constitution barring an active military officer from holding a civilian position in the government. — Kyle Aristophere Atienza