MANILA (UPDATE) — A group of lawyers and law school deans on Tuesday filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to cite former anti-insurgency task force spokesperson Lorraine Badoy for indirect contempt over statements she made against a Manila RTC judge.
The petitioners were led by former Philippine Bar Association head Rico Domingo and Ateneo Human Rights Center executive director Ray Paolo Santiago, and were accompanied by supporters from different progressive groups.
Other petitioners include former Dean Antonio La Viña and law school deans Soledad Deriquito-Mawis, Anna Maria Abad and Rodel Taton.
Badoy, also a former communications undersecretary during the Duterte administration, had made several statements against Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar of Manila RTC Branch 19 after the latter's decision junking the government’s petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.
She issued a hypothetical scenario of killing the judge out of her political belief.
“This is a continuing affront on the independence of the judiciary… We have to put a stop to this," Domingo told the media after the filing.
"Every well-meaning Filipino citizen should join us, the Movement Against Disinformation, so that we can do something about this and preserve the independence of the judiciary and the lives and limbs of the judges particularly,” he added.
"‘Pag hindi natin nai-stop ‘to, bukas mayroon na namang babarilin, mayroon na namang aambushin...‘Pag na red-tag kami, sasabihin nila, 'Ayun, na red-tag kasi komunista ‘yan'. Kinabukasan, patay na kami. ‘Yan ang nangyayari sa atin.”
(If we fail to stop this, we can expect killings to continue. If we're red-tagged, they will say we're red-tagged because we're communists. And then, we're killed. That is what's happening in our country.)
The Supreme Court had issued a stern warning that statements on social media inciting violence and endangering the lives of judges and their families will be considered a contempt of court.
The group's 38-page petition asked the high court to declare Badoy guilty of indirect contempt, jailed for six months, and fined P30,000.
Indirect contempt carries a penalty of a fine of up to P30,000, or jailtime of up to six months, or both.
Among the statements that Badoy made over a series of Facebook posts that are the subject of the petition are the following:
- accusing Judge Magdoza-Malagar of passionate lawyering for the CPP-NPA
- calling her decision “shameless”, and the judge “unprincipled” and an “idiot”
- accusing the judge of being a friend of the CPP-NPA-NDF with a “helmet as thick as the helmet of urban operatives of the CPP NPA NDF”
- calling the judge a “traitor”
- calling the decision a “judgement straight from the bowels of hell”
Badoy also accused the judge’s husband, the chancellor of University of the Philippines Cebu, of being a CPP-NPA member.
She also said she will form an organization that will bomb offices of “corrupt judges who are friends of terrorists.”
“[T]he foregoing Facebook posts of Respondent Badoy-Partosa are nothing less than contumacious as they directly besmirch and tear down the reputation and credibility of Judge Malagar and likewise impair the respect due, not only to Judge Malagar, but also to all members of the Philippine Bench and Bar,” the petition said.
“Respondent Badoy-Partosa’s litany of falsehoods could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be categorized as fair and bona fide criticism of a public official’s conduct. It is slanderous, unfair, abusive, criminal," it added.
"Respondent has threatened the life and security of Judge Malagar and her husband; subjected them to slanderous accusations; and through her actions, called on and encouraged the public to do the same. This is truly detrimental to the independence of the judiciary and grossly violative of the duty of respect to courts.”
Badoy had denied threatening the life of Magdoza-Malagar, saying she merely posted a hypothetical syllogism to illustrate the point.
But Domingo rejected her explanation, saying, “The posts are very self-explanatory.”
“According to IBP figures, there are about 63 to 66 lawyers killed from 2016 and about 195 journalists killed... These numbers are mushrooming or accelerating in speed,” he said.
“Yesterday, Mr. Mabasa/Lapid has been killed. We have to stop this,” he added, referring to the killing of radio commentator Percival Mabasa, more popularly known as Percy Lapid.
“The honorable Supreme Court should do something about this,” he continued.
SC ISSUES SHOW CAUSE ORDER VS BADOY
Later in the day, the SC issued a show cause order requiring Badoy to explain why she should not be cited in contempt of court over her statements against Magdoza-Malagar.
The high court gave Badoy 30 days to explain the following issues:
- whether she posted or caused posting of a statement attacking the Sept. 21 Manila RTC resolution
- whether her post encouraged more violent language versus the judge
- whether her post incited violence versus the judge
- whether her social media posts are part of protected speech
The SC resolution refered to the SC-initiated administrative matter versus Badoy which it mentioned last week, not the petition filed by lawyers earlier Tuesday.
Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) welcomed the development, but expressed hope that his letter with more than 600 lawyers will also be noted by the SC.
He also hopes the issue of redtagging will be discussed.