CHR: Red-tagging of Mandaluyong judge sends 'chilling message' to lawyers

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday, March 17, expressed concern over the red-tagging of Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 209 Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio and how it sends a "chilling message" to lawyers.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said linking Ignacio to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) "without any specific and verifiable evidence exposes her to grave danger," especially in the context of recent attacks against members of the legal profession.

"Continuous harm, vilification, intimidation, and red tagging of lawyers and judges, if left unaddressed, may result in sending a chilling message to those who remain faithful in the performance of their legal duties," she said.

The statement comes after a tarpaulin bearing the CPP logo and "thanking" Ignacio for her "quick action" was displayed in a pedestrian overpass along EDSA near Shaw Boulevard.

Ignacio recently cleared journalist Lady Ann "Icy" Salem and trade unionist Rodrigo Esparago of charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives while also voiding search warrants issued by Quezon City Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert.

According to CHR's De Guia, Ignacio is "being attacked in connection to her decisions involving prosecutorial discretion and the exercise of due process rights."

"By doing so, we contribute in the direct deprivation of the people’s access to functioning and effective judiciary," she said.

The red-tagging of Ignacio is the latest incident against members of the legal profession. Calbayog police recently asked their local court for a list of lawyers representing alleged communists, a move slammed by groups as part of the government's crackdown.

Latest data from the Free Legal Assistance Group showed that 61 lawyers have been killed since 2016.

CHR urged the government to "act with resolve in reducing the violence on the ground and upholding the rule of law."

De Guia also said, "The number of unresolved cases of attacks against citizens, including those members of the legal profession, worsens the culture of impunity in the country." –

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.