The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the former spokesperson of a government anti-communist task force to explain why she should not be cited for contempt for red-tagging a Manila judge on social media.
Lorraine Marie Badoy, the former spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), was given 30 days to justify her social media attacks on Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Marlo Magodza-Malagar, who dismissed a government bid to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist organizations.
The Court issued the order during its regular en banc session Tuesday, a week after it decided to tackle possible actions against Badoy, who had accused Malagar of “lawyering” for the communists.
The Court also ordered Badoy to respond under oath to the following questions: 1) Whether or not she posted or caused the posting of the statements attacking the Sept. 21, 2022 resolution rendered by the Regional Trial Court in any or all of her social media accounts; 2) Whether or not her social media post encouraged more violent language against the judge concerned in any or all of her social media platforms; 3) Whether or not her post, in the context of social media and in the experience of similar incendiary comments here or abroad, was a clear incitement to produce violent actions against a judge and is likely to produce such act; and 4) Whether or not her statements on her social media accounts, implying violence on a judge, is part of her protected constitutional speech.
The Court also took note of the statements issued by various lawyers and judges’ groups such as Hukom, the Philippine Judges Association, and the University of the Philippine College of Law Faculty, that denounced Badoy’s red-tagging of Malagar.
It also noted the report submitted by the Office of the Court Administrator on the steps taken to ensure the safety and security of Malagar.
Last week, the tribunal issued a warning against those who continue to incite violence through social media and other means which endanger the lives of judges and their families, saying that such acts are considered a contempt of the Court and will be dealt with accordingly.
Meanwhile, law deans and lawyers on Tuesday filed a petition before the Court seeking to cite Badoy for indirect contempt also in connection with her Facebook post. which the petitioners said was intended to “assault and humiliate” Malagar after she rendered the decision.
Among the petitioners are former Philippine Bar Association (PBA) president Rico Domingo, Ateneo Human Rights Center executive director Ray Paolo Santiago, former Ateneo law dean Antonio “Tony” La Viña and law school deans Soledad Deriquito-Mawis, Anna Maria Abad and Rodel Taton, lawyers Ayn Ruth Tolentino-Azarcon, Artemio Calumpong and Christianne Grace Salonga.
If found guilty, Gadon may be meted a penalty of six months imprisonment and a P30,000 fine.
“Such shameless and public behavior towards an honorable public official is not only a conduct that tends to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice, but is ultimately a direct affront against the dignity, honor, prestige and independence of the entire justice system,” the petition read.
The petitioners said they have legal standing to file the petition since it is their duty as lawyers to act as “guardians to the Rules of Law” and to fight any act that is opposed to such an objective.
“Indeed, the foregoing Facebook posts of respondent Badoy-partosa are nothing less than contumacious as they directly besmirch ad tear down the reputation and credibility of Judge Malagar and likewise impair the respect due, not only to Judge Malagar, but also to all members of the Philippine Bench and Bar,” the petitioners said.
“Respondent Badoy-Partosa’s misconduct and misbehavior call on the public to lose trust and confidence in the authority of the judiciary and to disregard the dignity and integrity of the courts of law. Her actions result [in] the inevitable discrediting of the authority of the court magistrates, as well as of the entire administration of justice,” they added.
The petitioners said the “vicious assault” against Malagar has alarmed and shaken the judicial magistrates and lawyers so much so that several law groups such as the Philippine Bar Association, Philippine Judges Association, Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Hukom Inc. described the online vilification and red-tagging as constituting “endangerment” of a member of the judiciary and an “attack on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.”
The petitioners said Badoy’s Facebook posts threatening Malagar and saying she was “lawyering” for the CPP-NPA were followed by a string of similarly crafted remarks, comments, images and videos uploaded and shared by the former and her social media followers, who the petitioners said, “seemingly await for respondent’s instruction and call to action.”
The petitioners also noted that Malagar is not the only target of Badoy’s hostile and threatening remarks, iting her vitriolic and hateful statement against Hukom Inc. after the latter condemned her statement against the judge.
“Evidently unsatisfied with the threatening remarks against Judge Magdoza-Malagar, respondent Badoy-Partosa has commenced adding more fuel to the fire as she unabashedly direct her vitriol and hate against all members of the Philippine judiciary as well as the members of the legal profession who do not agree with her statements,” the petition said.
“It is slanderous, abusive, unfair and criminal. Respondent has threatened the life of Judge Malagar and her husband, subjected them to slanderous accusations and through her actions, called on the public to do the same. This is truly detrimental to the independence of the judiciary, and grossly violative of the duty of respect for courts,” the petition said.
In her Facebook post, Badoy accused Judge Malaga of “lawyering” for the CPP-NPA when she ruled that rebellion and political crimes are not acts of terrorism.
Badoy called the judge a “friend and true ally” of the communist groups and branded her decision as a “judgment straight from the bowels of communist hell.”
Badoy also wrote in her post: “So, If I kill this judge and I do so out of my political belief that all allies of the CPP NPA NDF must be killed because there is no difference in my mind between a member of the CPP NPA NDF and their friends, then please be lenient with me.”
In succeeding posts, Badoy disowned the post and branded it as “fake news.”
In junking the government’s case against the CPP-NPA, Malagar held that the communist movement was not organized for the purpose of engaging in or committing terrorism.
Domingo said that while the Court had repeatedly said that while a litigant has the right to express disappointment over decisions of the court, there is a limit to that.
“You cannot lambast the court for what it did because that would actually be an affront to the independence of the judiciary,” he said. Santiago, on the other hand, said the petition was filed in order to push the SC to act on threats and insinuations being hurled against judges and lawyers.
“We would like to hold persons responsible for insinuating in any term that judges and lawyers are part of any group which they think might be harmful to the security of the Philippines. These kinds of insinuations lead to physical harm and dangers to lawyers and judges,” Santiago said.