IBP, PJA condemn red-tagging of judge who junked terror tag on CPP-NPA
MANILA, Philippines — A national association of judges and mandatory organization of lawyers condemned the red-tagging and vilification of a Manila Regional Trial Court Judge for dismissing the government’s case to declare as terrorists the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
Separate statements were released on Monday by the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in response to a social media post by former NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy, in which she criticized Manila RTC Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar.
Badoy, in a now-deleted post, accused Malagar of lawyering for the CPP-NPA.
When the post was no longer visible in her timeline, in another post, she called it as “fake news.” She explained that what she had said was that Judge Malagar used the constitution of the CPP-NPA as a basis instead of the 1987 Constitution.
According to the statement released by the IBP, these irrational and untruthful claims are beyond the scope of fair debate. They instead stir up animosity and hostility towards our judicial system.
“Stating rational reservations on the decisions of the judiciary is normal. Attacking its members (judiciary) and threatening them bodily harm is not. The judiciary’s job is to decide disputes. And no judge should ever feel threatened just by performing that duty,” the IBP added.
Meanwhile, the PJA said verbal attacks and threats of violence have no place in a democracy and the government to act, especially if the one vilifying and red-tagging is a government official or employee.
“The Philippine Judges Association deplores in no uncertain term the undeserved vilification, red-tagging, and life-endangerment of a member of the judiciary. We call on the leadership of the present administration to declare that in no time under its watch will democracy be imperiled by an irresponsible and unfounded assault on a trial judge,” the group said.
In dismissing the government’s proscription petition against the CPP-NPA, Malagar cited several Supreme Court cases distinguishing rebellion from ordinary crimes and terrorism. In addition, the judge mentioned nine cases cited by the government as terrorist attacks. The court, however, said it could not be classified as such due to a lack of evidence to prove that it is terrorism and not rebellion.
The judge also cautioned those with a propensity for red-tagging, saying it put the lives of activists in danger.
Malagar is the second trial court judge red-tagged as having ties with the communist movement. The first was Mandaluyong RTC Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, who was red-tagged on two tarpaulins hung on footbridges along EDSA after she dismissed the illegal possession of firearms charges against journalists Lady Ann Salem and trade unionist Rodrigo Esparago.
“The PJA upholds the rule of law and not the rule of men. We remind everyone that individuals, including judges, have protected constitutional rights, and personal attacks and threats against them and the judiciary should never be tolerated. To this end, we call upon government offices and private organizations to see to it that the actions of their members are legal, moral, and form part of the acts of s civilized society,” the group said.
At the same time, PJA assured the public that they, as “sentinels of democracy,” will continue to perform their constitutionally-mandated duty undeterred by threats or vilification.
“Nothing can guarantee a vibrant democratic society more than an independent judicial system,” it added.
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