IBP: Free speech won’t shield from sanction people spreading false news
MANILA, Philippines — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) warned the public that false reports about a public official or other people could not escape sanction by citing the right to free speech.
“To threaten members of the judiciary is to ‘sow fear’ at a ‘critical element’ of the legal system. Broadcasts and posts showcasing those who verbally assault judges encourage the public to do the same,” the IBP 25th Board of Governors said in a statement Monday.
It added, “if judges can be treated disdainfully without consequence, the Rule of Law becomes a hollow promise.”
The IBP issued the statement after Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar was red-tagged following her decision dismissing the government’s proscription petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army (CPP-NPA) as a terrorist organization.
The IBP also mentioned the 1995 Jurado case, where it ruled that “false reports about a public official or other person are not shielded from sanction by the cardinal right to free speech enshrined in the Constitution.”
“Even the most liberal view of free speech has never countenanced the publication of falsehoods, especially the persistent and unmitigated dissemination of patent lies,” the IBP 25th Board of Governors said in a statement.
The IBP said, as officers of the court charged with its protection, “reserves the right to resort to these remedies.”
At the same time, it also called on the immediate activation and utilization of the Judicial Marshalls, which was recently created by law.
Judicial Marshalls shall be responsible for the security, safety, and protection of the judiciary’s members, officials, personnel, and property.
The law creating the Official of the Judicial Marshal was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte early this year.
“We call for the immediate activation and utilization of the Judicial Marshall Service recently created by law,” the IBP’s 25th Board of Governors said in a statement.
Malagar is the second judge to be red-tagged, 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.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Court Administrator also expressed concern over online threats made against judges and other members of the judiciary.
“We are concerned in a sense if there are those who would like to make such statement, which we considered to be, hopefully, not intended to harm anyone,” Court Administrator Raul Villanueva said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
Villanueva said that while his office has yet to receive a directive from the Supreme Court to conduct an investigation, judges’ associations are already looking into the matter.
The OCA is mandated by law to supervise all courts, its judges and personnel nationwide.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.