MANILA (UPDATE) — The Office of the Court Administrator on Monday expressed concern over online threats made against judges and other members of the judiciary.
Court Administrator Raul Villanueva made the remark when asked about former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict spokesperson Lorraine Badoy's red-tagging and threat against a judge.
"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," Villanueva told ANC's "Rundown".
In a Facebook post Friday, Badoy accused Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar of "lawyering" for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
This, after Malagar junked the Philippine government’s petition to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations.
Calling Malagar’s resolution a “judgment straight from the bowels of communist hell,” Badoy posed a hypothetical scenario:
“So if I kill this judge and I do so out of my political belief that all allies of the CPP NPA NDF must be killed because there is no difference in my mind between a member of the CPP NPA NDF and their friends, then please be lenient with me.”
Badoy slammed the judge for supposedly asking that “acts of terrorism” of the CPP-NPA-NDF should be deemed “political crimes” which are “treated with leniency.”
She called Malagar “unprincipled” and a “friend of CPP NPA NDF.”
The judge cited a long line of Supreme Court cases which distinguished rebellion from ordinary crimes and terrorism, explaining in detail the “political offense doctrine” — why there seems to be a lenient attitude towards rebels in the cited cases.
Malagar relied on “precedents” or cases decided by the SC which have become authority for deciding subsequent cases.
In her ruling, she cited at least six SC cases on the issue of political crimes which explained why common crimes take on a political complexion if done for a political purpose and are not punished similarly as common crimes.
While the Office of the Court Administrator is not yet investigating the case, Villanueva said there are judges’ associations who are looking into the matter.
He said his office would investigate the case if the SC will "require" them.
Villanueva reminded the public about the role of judges.
"The work of the judges... is to ensure that once cases are filed before our courts, these are judicially heard, and of course, decided based on the facts and the law upon which the decision should be anchored on," he said.
A law creating the Office of the Judiciary Marshalls, which will protect members and personnel of the judiciary, was signed in April.
'ATTACK ON THE RULE OF LAW'
In a statement issued Saturday, an organization of trial court judges came to Malagar's defense, calling her a “much respected, upright and competent judge.”
HUKOM Inc called online threats such as red-tagging, vilification and doxxing as "attacks on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary".
"We cannot rest easy and accept them as normal and ordinary. These acts must be called out because of their chilling effect on the exercise of our judicial functions and the lasting damage they cause to our institution," the group said.
Addressing their fellow members of the judiciary, HUKOM said, "Let us not normalize violence against persons as a form of redress by being silent."
"We appeal to all sectors to help us serve the public better by allowing us the space to do so without threats, pressures, and improper interference."
The Philippine Judges Association also lamented 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.
The PJA urged government offices and private organizations "to see to it that the action of their members are legal, moral and form part of the acts of a civilized society".
Badoy has denied making a hypothetical statement on killing the judge, calling it “fake news.”
As of Saturday morning, the post was no longer available on her timeline on Facebook.
But several people were able to screen record Badoy's post and posted the video on Twitter.