No law vs red-tagging — Ombudsman Martires
MANILA, Philippines — A formal complaint filed against former anti-communist task force spokesperson and retired Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. has been dismissed as no law in the country prohibits red-tagging, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Monday.
Martires appeared before the House committee on appropriations after Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel inquired about the status of the case against Parlade and other National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) officials, including former undersecretary Lorraine Badoy.
The Ombudsman initially said that the cases against Parlade and Badoy had been dismissed, but he later clarified that the complaint against Parlade marked No. 006 in 2022 was dismissed.
Other cases are still ongoing, Martires clarified.
“With the huge amount ng cases, I don’t know the status of each. But if the honorable Congressman is referring to those cases against Parlade, Badoy et. al., Esperon, with respect to red-tagging, those cases were already dismissed due to the reason that there is no law that prohibits red tagging. In the absence of a law we cannot arrogate on to ourselves by saying they violated red-tagging,” he said.
“Before I go further, ‘yon pong kaso ni Parlade that was filed in 2022, which is 006, ay nadismiss na po. Another case against Badoy, which was filed also in 2022, 008 is still an ongoing investigation. The other cases pending against Parlade and other employees ng PCOO ay na file pa ito no’n pang 2005, we will check if these are still undergoing investigation,” he added.
Martires asked Manuel to provide him with a list of the cases against Parlade and Badoy so he could update the lawmaker regarding the status.
He, however, clarified that it would be hard to press charges hinged on red-tagging or linking individuals to armed communists when the complaints cited a different law.
“If you could please give us a copy of those cases, we assure you that we will furnish you a copy of the status of those cases. The earliest would be this afternoon. But I assure you that for the cases that are dismissed, I am sure that complainants have been given a copy,” Martires said.
“Now, regarding the point that there is no red-tagging, if you file a complaint for violation of the Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, it seems like you are using the law to pass through complaints for red-tagging. Right? This is what we call an alibi,” he explained.
The Ombudsman also likened this to instances where their Office is supposedly being used — as cases for violating sections of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which are out of their jurisdiction, are still being filed.
According to Martires, filing cases just because the respondent is a high government official that the complainants want to prosecute is hindering the Office’s ability to respond to petitions and complaints filed by poor people.
Manuel countered this, though, saying that people affected by red-tagging are actually workers who fight for poor people’s rights.
“Several of the cases filed, particularly regarding Section 3A, are about illegal drugs. So we have no jurisdiction over that. So they are only using the chance, using the Ombudsman. I hope that does not happen because the Ombudsman cannot immediately act on your cases, which have no link to the law, just because the person is famous or has a high position in government, as we also prioritize cases filed by the poor,” Martires said.
“I hope cases against red-tagging and those filed by the poor are not pitted against each other. Our rights defenders who are also our people’s lawyers, they do a lot for the poor. In fact, having them defend farmers, fisherfolk, workers, is part of helping the poor,” Manuel retorted.
Under the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte, Parlade and Badoy faced a deluge of complaints over red-tagging or linking individuals to armed communist rebels. (With reports from Ivana Romero, INQUIRER.net trainee)