NUPL decries ‘belated’ Ombudsman order in red-tagging case
MANILA, Philippines — Two years after the filing of the complaint, the Office of the Ombudsman finally ordered three former officials of the Duterte administration to reply to one of several complaints against their still-unsubstantiated charges that several individuals and groups had undefined “links” to communist rebels.
In an order, dated June 16, the Ombudsman’s Preliminary Investigation and Administrative Adjudication Bureau told former National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., retired Army Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and former Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy to reply to the complaint.
Esperon was the vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) while Parlade and Badoy were among the spokespersons of the task force created by an executive order issued by former President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Ombudsman’s order said that failure to file their counter-affidavits within 10 days would be considered a “waiver of their right to present controverting evidence and the investigation shall proceed accordingly.”
It also stated that no motion to dismiss “or bill of particulars, or other dilatory motions” will be entertained.
But the complainant, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), on Saturday expressed reservation over the “belated” order.
“Quite belated as it is, we have mixed feelings this complaint is taking off somehow,” Edre Olalia, president of NUPL, told the Inquirer.
“Regrettably, the respondents are for now already out of office,” he lamented.
The NUPL complained that Esperon, Parlade, and Badoy abused their authority in “persecuting and espousing lies” against their organization and its members.
The former NTF-Elcac officials had claimed that the lawyers’ group is a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which the government has declared a terrorist organization.
“If based solely on the merits, the facts, evidence and the law, we stand by our complaint and there should be no other considerations that must come into play,” Olalia said.
The lawyer also pointed out that despite the complaint their group filed in December 2020, Esperon “continues to mindlessly spew without remorse the very chatter we are complaining and seeking legal redress for.”
While their exit from government service does not diminish their accountability for violations of Republic Act No. 6713, or the code of ethics for government officials, it does render moot the suspension and dismissal the NUPL sought in its complaint.
Moreover, the Ombudsman has not acted on other complaints that were lodged even before the NUPL its own.
Still pending before the Ombudsman are the complaints filed by the nonprofit Ibon Foundation, the Bayan Muna party list, human rights group Karapatan, and then-Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.