Former Miss U Catriona Gray and actress Liza Soberano (right).
By Junex Doronio
DESPITE IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES, Senator Risa Hontiveros on Saturday defended celebrity women who were red-tagged for being apparently sympathetic to the causes of a women’s group Gabriela and scolded Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., an alumnus of the prestigious Philippine Military Academy, just like her late husband.
“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 nararanasan ng napakaraming Pilipino. This is ungentlemanly and a shame to your rank and to the PMA,” Hontiveros said on her Facebook post, addressing Parlade.
Hontiveros, a democratic socialist, is the widow of Frank Baraquel Jr. of PMA “Sinagtala” Class of 1986 and mistah (classmate) of former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and now Senator Ronald “Doroy or Bato” dela Rosa.
As an ideology, democratic socialism can be considered left-of-center and different from the “extreme left” national democratic line that the Gabriela women’s group is identified with and tagged as a communist front by the military.
“Lt. General 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,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros said she started as a young advocate for women’s rights, and married Baraquel, a military man and raised a family of four with him.
“We betray the integrity of our military, and especially our women and children, by allowing abuses of power like this to happen,” Hontiveros told Parlade.
She warned: “Tatandaan ko ang lahat ng mga ito at paghandaan mo ang susunod nating paghaharap sa Commission on Appointments. Hindi ko ito kayang palampasin.”
Addressing popular actress Liza Soberano and former Miss Universe Catriona Gray: “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.”
The senator urged them not to be afraid and stand for their constitutional right.
“Patuloy niyo lang panindigan ang karapatan niyong magsalita. Kasama niyo ako at karamihan sa ating mamamayan. I salute and embrace you,” Hontiveros said.
As a staunch defender of women’s rights, some political observers said Hontiveros may emerge as a “strong vice presidential material” for the 2022 polls.