Actress Liza Soberano is unfazed by the stern warning of a top Philippine military official regarding her association with women's rights group Gabriela Youth, her legal counsel said Friday, October 23.
"Liza is not afraid of this statement [Lt.] Gen. Antonio Parlade [Jr.]," Liza's lawyer Juanito Lim Jr. told ANC's Matters of Fact. "Though I must state we take note of the general's advice, unsolicited as it may sound."
"However," he added, "please know that Ms. Soberano will continue to exercise her constitutionally-protected right to free speech and expression without fear nor [restraint] from anyone.”
In a statement on Wednesday, October 21, Parlade told the public not to tag Liza as “NPA” as “she is merely advocating for women's rights.”
However, he also told Liza that she should cut ties with Gabriela, otherwise, she could suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira, a 22-year-old student from University of the Philippines Manila who was killed in a clash between government forces and the New People’s Army in Nasugbu, Batangas in 2017.
"It's a pity she learned about non-sense things like nabbing a firearm, exploitation while already inside the ground. It was too late, she is dead. The choice is yours, Liza," said Parlade.
According to Lim, his client has nothing to be afraid about as she has not committed any wrongdoing other than expressing her views.
"As any civilian would feel, being red-tagged might cause some sort of a chilling effect, but going to this particular situation with Ms. Soberano, we feel that there's nothing to worry about as far as Liza is concerned because as we have earlier stated she has not committed any wrongdoing other than expressing her views,” he said.
The lawyer also stressed that Liza was not a member of Gabriela nor any left-leaning groups, and remains to be "apolitical."
In an official statement on Thursday, October 22, Lim denounced the controversial red-tagging of his client—which began after Liza participated in a webinar conducted by Gabriela Youth as a speaker about women and children's welfare—saying "expressing her love and respect for women and children 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," read the statement.
"We, thus, call on everyone concerned to be circumspect in associating our client with their respective political beliefs, whatever it may be," it added.
Amid the controversy, several personalities from showbiz and politics alike defended Liza. Among them were senators Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan, writer Ricky Lee, filmmaker Joel Lamangan, and actress and philanthropist Angel Locsin.