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Senator Risa Hontiveros Defends Liza Soberano And Catriona Gray

'Every time you speak up, another girl becomes braver and another life is saved.'
PHOTO: (LEFT TO RIGHT) INSTAGRAM/LIZASOBERANO, FACEBOOK/SENATOR RISA HONTIVEROS
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On October 13, Liza Soberano was one of the speakers for a Facebook Live webinar organized by Gabriela Youth, where she talked about why it's important to speak up about social issues, especially when it comes to violence against women and children. 

YOU GO, GIRLS:

In a statement through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Facebook page, Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade told the public not to "red-tag" Liza for supporting women's rights, but proceeded to say, "Is she an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet. So let's help educate her and the other celebrity targets of Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), the Underground Mass Organization hiding under Gabriela."

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Parlade urged the 22-year-old actress to "abdicate" the group or she might "suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira," a student who was killed in a clash between government troops and suspected members of the New People's Army in 2017. Parlade also mentioned Catriona Gray in his statement.

Gabriela representative Arlene Brosas responded to Parlade's statement, pointing out the irony of his words: "By saying that Soberano is 'not yet an NPA,' he is maliciously associating the actress with the armed movement when what she did in the youth forum was to only speak up for all the victims of gender-based violence and abuse." 

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Senator Risa Hontiveros also came to Liza's defense. In a statement posted on her official Facebook page, she addressed Parlade, "When you sat in front of me during your appointment hearing, you were like a lamb. I gave you the benefit of the doubt during your promotion hearing because I believed that, just like my late husband Frank, you abide by the motto of the PMA: courage, integrity, and loyalty." ICYDK, Senator Hontiveros interviewed Parlade in August, when he faced the Commission on Appointments and was promoted to a three-star general. 

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"Huwag mong gamitin ang kapangyarihan mo bilang heneral upang takutin at pagbantaan ang mga kababaihang ito. Your threats and harassment are unacceptable. By silencing them, pinapalampas mo ang karahasan, panggagahasa, at pangaabuso na nararansan ng napakaraming Pilipino. This is ungentlemanly and a shame to your rank and to the PMA," the senator wrote. 

She also addressed Liza and Catriona in her statement, urging them to stay strong and to keep using their voices to fight for women's rights: "It is difficult and painful to be at the frontlines fighting beside persons oppressed by a norm that advocates rape, murder, and exploitation. But every time you speak up, another girl becomes braver and another life is saved. I'm behind you every step of the way."

YOU GO, GIRLS:

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On Friday, October 23, Parlade's team claimed that Liza's lawyer and family thanked him for his statement: "I got a message, a call from Atty. (Juanito, Jr.) Lim yesterday, thanking me and informing me that they're sending a thank you letter to me personally for informing them about the nature of this organization, which they don't want their client to be associated with." 

Red-tagging refers to "the act of labeling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists (used as) a strategy...by State agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military, against those perceived to be 'threats' or 'enemies of the State.'"