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MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Monday, September 11, at least one red-tagging complaint against retired lieutenant general Antonio Parlade was already dismissed by his office.
Another case, this time against former spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Lorraine Badoy, is undergoing investigation, although Martires initially thought it had been dismissed.
“Before I go further, the case against Parlade, [Case] 006, that was filed in 2022 has been dismissed,” Martires said in Filipino before the House appropriations committee, which heard the Office of the Ombudsman’s proposed budget for 2024.
“Another case against Badoy, which was filed also in 2022, [Case] 008, is still an ongoing investigation. The other cases pending against Parlade and other PCOO employees…we will check if these are still undergoing investigation,” he added.
It was unclear how many more cases against the red-taggers are still pending with the Ombudsman.
The problem with red tagging cases before the Ombudsman, Martires told the committee, is that there is no law against it.
“Wala namang batas nagbabawal sa (There is no law that violates) red-tagging. In the absence of a law, we cannot arrogate to ourselves [the authority to say someone committeed] red-tagging,” Martires told the House committee.
Red-tagging is the act of labeling individuals or groups as communist “fronts,” “terrorists,” or “sympathizers,” often without evidence, which can lead to targeted harassment or violence against the tagged individual.
Martires, however, said that using the anti-corruption law to prosecute red-tagging was just a way to prosecute an action that is not necessarily illegal.
“Para lang ‘yun nagpalusot tayo eh (It’s like we’re skirting the law),” Martires said, referring to how the anti-graft law was being applied to red tagging, which, he said was beyond the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
Earlier on Monday, broadcast journalist Atom Araullo filed a P2-million suit against Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz, her co-host in an anti-communist program on the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel said he didn’t believe the red-tagging complaints were an abuse of the anti-corruption law.
In 2022, when Badoy was still a government official, dozens of complaints were filed with the Ombudsman against her for red-tagging. Among the complainants were Nobel Peace Laureate and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, former vice president Leni Robredo, the mother of community pantry organizer Patreng Non, and health workers. (READ: LIST: Complaints filed against red-tagger Lorraine Badoy)
Badoy is a former practicing physician. – Rappler.com