Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo on Wednesday said the Supreme Court will “not take it sitting down” if there are attacks against judges and judiciary employees.
Gesmundo made the statement after former Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy red-tagged a judge for a decision favoring the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army,
“Just like before, when there’s a necessity for the court to make a statement, warranted under the circumstances, the Supreme Court will not take it sitting down and express its view. Of course, avoiding pre-judging, in case a case should reach the court,” Gesmundo said.
“Basically, the Supreme Court will always be there to protect its judges, justices, court employees, and everyone in the judiciary,” he added.
Meanwhile, a legislator said Wednesday Badoy is no longer connected with the National Task Force to End Local Community Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, who sponsored the budget of the Office of the President (OP) during yesterday’s budget deliberation at the House of Representatives, made the disclosure in reply to members of the Makabayan Bloc, who asked if Badoy and Jeffrey Celis or “Ka Eric” are still connected with the OP.
“They used to be with the PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) but they were never employees of the OP…. ever since before they were never part of the OP, they were under the PCOO,” Tiangco said of the inquiries from ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas.
The Supreme Court also expressed its gratitude to the Philippine National Police for its assurance that it will protect members of the judiciary from threats and intimidation, including those done on social media.
“The Supreme Court thanks the PNP for its statement that it will protect members of the judiciary from whatever threats and intimidation even on social media,” SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said.
“The SC expresses hopes that the investigations started by the PNP on threats against judges be terminated. It is very important that members of the judiciary are free from threats to assure them that they can hand down decisions according to the laws and without partiality. Thank you to all members of the PNP,” he added.
The SC had earlier warned that fine or imprisonment or both will be imposed on “those who continue to incite violence through social media and other means which endanger the lives of judges and their families.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said it is incumbent upon the Supreme Court to protect judges and its own people.
The senator, as chairperson of the Senate committee on public order, was reacting to the stern warning issued by the high court against those involved in tagging or threatening violence against judges.
Badoy was criticized for accusing a judge of “lawyering” for communists after she dismissed a proscription case against the CPP-NPA that would allow the state to designate them as terrorists.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Badoy criticized Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar for ruling that rebellion and political crimes are not acts of terrorism.
Badoy called the RTC magistrate’s decision a “judgment straight from the bowels of communist hell.”
Brosas asked the House panel to clarify what Badoy’s official designation was with NTF-ELCAC and whether President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. knew about her.
The party-list solon said she had asked about Badoy with the Department of Interior and Local Government, which replied the former undersecretary was “with National,” meaning the OP.
Tiangco then said Badoy is not even a consultant of the Office of the President or the NTF-ELCAC, “not even on the plantilla.”
Dela Rosa said it is just proper that the Supreme Court should issue a warning if the lives of its people or those within its turf are being threatened.
However, the senator clarified that in giving the warning, the SC was not stopping critics of the judiciary.
“The SC did not even say one should not criticize,” added Dela Rosa, who has also served as national police chief and director of the Bureau of Corrections.
But he also acknowledged that if members of the left-leaning group can claim freedom of expression and speech, the senator noted that those in the government can also invoke the same freedoms, like Badoy.
“It’s different if it involves an attack which has a threat to life. But, if it’s disgust over a court ruling, one also has a right to talk,” he said.
The Supreme Court said a person could face contempt of court charges and imprisonment if proven to have threatened judges or their families.
“The Court sternly warns those who continue to incite violence through social media and other means, which endanger the lives of judges and their families, and that this shall likewise be considered a contempt of this Court and will be dealt with accordingly,” the SC said in a statement.