Journalist sues SMNI hosts over Red-tagging
Journalist Alfonso Tomas “Atom” Araullo on Monday filed a P2.07-million lawsuit against broadcasters Lorraine Marie Badoy-Partosa and Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), over claims that he had been Red-tagged by the two in their talk show and in another online program.
Badoy-Partosa, also known as Lorraine Badoy, has been drawing controversy in her anticommunism advocacy since her stint during the Duterte administration as spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, while her cohost Celiz is a self-proclaimed former rebel.
Araullo’s 47-page complaint against Celiz and Badoy-Partosa, as she was identified by her full name in that document, is intended to “hold accountable the two SMNI hosts for their wrongful acts and to highlight how [R]ed-tagging foments hate, abuse and violence against journalists and truth-tellers,” said lawyers from the Movement Against Disinformation (Mad), who accompanied Araullo and his parents Miguel and Carol at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Araullo cited several “defamatory statements” by both Badoy-Partosa and Celiz in their program “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” and by Celiz in an interview on Facebook.
One such statement cited in the complaint was that Araullo was part of a “systematic, orchestrated attack against the government.”
Araullo said the program hosts also accused him of being “a member of the Communist Party [of the Philippines] (CPP) or at least an enabler.”
Furthermore, they accused Araullo’s mother, veteran activist Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, of being an “urban infiltrator” and “a top recruiter for the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) while posing as a human rights defender.”
Carol Araullo filed in July a P2.15-million civil suit against Badoy-Partosa and Celiz for repeatedly linking her to the communist movement.
The younger Araullo said in his complaint: “There is no doubt that defendants maliciously used their very public program as a vehicle, not to present a purportedly fair and unbiased report, but rather to launch their ‘personal attacks’ against the plaintiff and his mother, in utter contempt and in willful disregard of their rights… without an iota of unverifiable proof.”
Abuse of civil rights
In a press conference after filing his complaint, Araullo said he initially thought of just ignoring the attacks against him because of their “seemingly nonsensical nature.”
But later he realized “the insidious, convincing, and detrimental nature” of their accusations, he said.
According to Mad lawyer Ayn Tolentino, Badoy-Partosa and Celiz violated Sections 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code on the abuse of civil rights; Sec. 26 on the respect of dignity, privacy, personality and peace of mind; and Sec. 33, which pertains to damages in defamation cases.