‘Burden of proof, burden of denial’


    ARMED Forces chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana yesterday said the military has not established whether a reporter of Inquirer.net is a propagandist of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as alleged by an Army general.

    He said he would wait for results of a military investigation before making a “conclusion.”

    Sobejana was asked if the AFP is ready to clear Tetch Torres-Tupas from the allegation made on social media last week by Army Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, commander of the Lucena City-based AFP Southern Luzon Command and spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

    Parlade made the allegation after Torres-Tupas wrote an article about two Aetas who asked the Supreme Court to be allowed to intervene in petitions questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

    The two Aetas have been charged for violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The military describes communists as terrorists. They claimed to have been tortured by the military into admitting they are NPA members. Their petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

    The story of the Aetas was written by other publications and was based on the petition filed before the Supreme Court.

    Sobejana said he is not saying Parlade was correct in accusing Torres-Tupas of being a propagandist and a supporter of the communist movement, saying Parlade still has to prove his allegation against the journalist.

    Told that Torres-Tupas, along with other justice reporters, wrote the story about the story based on the petition of the two Aetas, Sobejana said: “We will make the rule of law take its due course.”

    But he added he could not agree with Parlade because is is just an “allegation.”

    On Torres-Tupas, he said, “Hindi ko rin ma-discount or ma-drop yung possibility, kasi sinulat nga e. If you write something meron ka ring, it is a dictate of your emotion or your sympathy or whatever. (I cannot also discount or drop the possibility, because she wrote the story. If you write something, it’s a dictate of your emotion or your sympathy or whatever),” he also said.

    As of now, Sobejana said, Parlade has to prove his allegation and if he does, the “burden of denial” is on Torres-Tupas.

    “Itong burden of proof, of course, na kay General Parlade, kung bakit niya sinabi yun. Ang burden of denial naman, na kay Ma’am Tupas, parang ganun lang yun. Both sides merong burden, burden of proof and burden of denial. (The burden of proof of course is on General Parlade, why he said that. The burden of denial, on the other hand, is on Ma’am Tupas. Both sides have burden, burden of proof and burden of denial),” he added.

    Sobejana said it may take some time to “ uncover the truth,” adding authorities should allowed to do their job in finding out the truth.

    He said failure on the part of either side to prove their respective positions means they will “suffer the consequence,” which he said is not having peace of mind.Sobejana said it would be better if Parlade and Torres-Tupas would meet and settle their differences.

    obejana said the decision of the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition of the two Aetas is a “good news.”

    “Nalaman natin na yung affidavit pala nila ay fabricated so ang taumbayan na lang huhusga. (We now know that their affidavit was fabricated so its up to the people to pass judgment),” Sobejana said.

    Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said a case for terrorism pending with the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court doomed the petition yto intervene filed by Aetas Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos.

    “Just conferred with Chief Justice Peralta, the reason for the denial of the petition in intervention is because there is already a pending case before the trial court,” Hosaka told reporters yesterday.

    On Tuesday before the start of the second round of the 37 petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act, Peralta said the en banc dismissed Gurung and Ramos’ petition.

    Peralta made the disclosure after Solicitor General Jose Calida told the Court that the two are withdrawing their petition as they claimed they did not actually want to file the petition but were forced to do so by their lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers.

    Calida said the two are now represented by lawyers from the Public Attorneys Office and the National Commission on Indigenous Filipinos.

    The NUPL denied they forced Gurung and Ramos to sign the petition.

    The case of Gurung and Ramos are the first known case under the Anti-Terrorism Law. – With Ashzel Hachero