MANILA (UPDATED) – The camp of Liza Soberano has denounced the red-tagging of the actress in various social media platforms.
The accusations linking Soberano to the New People’s Army came after she participated in a webinar organized by Gabriela Youth, where she tearfully urged fellow influencers to speak up on issues affecting women and children.
In a statement released on Thursday, Soberano’s legal counsel Atty. Juanito Lim Jr. said the actress was merely “expressing her love and respect for women and children” because this is her personal advocacy.
“Ms. Soberano remains to be apolitical. She does not support nor antagonize any person’s political views. The important point here is respect for others, a virtue she has conscientiously practiced all her life,” Lim said.
“We, thus, call on everyone concerned to be circumspect in associating our client with their respective politics beliefs, whatever it may be,” he added.
In a statement posted on the Facebook page of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said Soberano "is not an NPA" because she is merely advocating for women's rights.
Parlade, however, also told Soberano to cut her ties with Gabriela Youth.
"Let us not red-tag Liza Soberano. It's not fair to her. She is merely supporting advocacy for women's rights. She has to be protected in the exercise of her rights. 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 Women's Party," he said.
"Liza Soberano, there' s still a chance to abdicate that group. If you don't, you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira @ELLA, former Deputy Secretary General of Gabriela Youth of UP, Manila and defender of women's rights, even against sexual predators amongst her comrades in the NPA unit she joined which is clearly stated in her handwritten letter addressed to a certain @EMIL," he claimed.
Reacting to the statement, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas blasted Parlade for red-tagging and "mansplaining" Soberano, even after he urged the public not to do so.
Over the weekend, Gabriela already expressed solidarity with Soberano and lauded her courage against gender-based violence.
“Nakakalungkot, hindi namin in-expect ang ganitong paninira kay Ms. Soberano," Brosas told ABS-CBN News Saturday.
She reiterated that the malicious accusations against the actress reflects widespread violence, discrimination and inequality against women in the Philippines, which sadly is now being replicated online.
“Her courage to speak out against gender-based violence amid the intensifying culture of impunity should be admired rather than silenced and criticized,” she said.
"Hindi terorismo ang paglaban sa abuso (Fighting abuse is not terrorism). Be a Liza Soberano in this country being led by macho-fascist officials. We call on more public personalities to use their platforms to promote human rights, something that is badly needed today amidst the many forms of violence being promoted by the highest officials of the land.”
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros also reacted on Parlade’s statement.
“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 a shame to your rank and to the PMA,” she said.
“I started as a young advocate for women’s rights, and married a military man and raised a family of 4 with him. We betray the integrity of our military, and especially our women and children by allowing abuses of power like this to happen,” she added.
Emphasizing she will not forget this incident, Hontiveros said: “Tatandaan ko ang lahat ng mga ito at paghandaan mo ang susunod natin paghaharap sa Comission on Appointments. Hindi ko ito kayang palampasin. See you in the next round.”
Hontiveros, likewise, has a message both for Soberano and former Miss Universe Catriona Gray, who also shares the same advocacy.
“This is your constitutional right; don't be afraid. Patuloy niyo lang panindigan ang karapatan niyong magsalita. Kasama niyo ako at karamihan sa ating mamamayan. I salute and embrace you,” she said.