Integrated Bar, PJA: Don't tolerate personal attacks and threats vs judges

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Integrated Bar, PJA: Don't tolerate personal attacks and threats vs judges
Lawyers submit a letter to the Supreme Court on December 22, 2020 urging action on the killings of lawyers.
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers via Bulatlat

MANILA, Philippines — The national organization of lawyers and the Supreme-Court recognized association of judges have condemned the outright red-tagging of and veiled threats against a Manila judge who junked the Philippine government’s petition to judicially declare communist rebels as terrorists by former Palace official Lorraine Badoy-Partosa.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the national organization of lawyers, called the statements of "abuse, harassment and outright red-tagging" of Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar as "capricious and dishonest" and said these "foment vitriol and hate against our judges."

"Stating rational observations on the decisions of the judiciary is normal. Attacking its members and threatening them with bodily harm is not," the IBP said.

The Philippine Judges Association meanwhile said that an unfounded assault on a judge is an "assault on democracy."

"We remind everyone that individuals, including judges, have protected constitutional rights, and personal attacks and threats against them and the judiciary should never be tolerated," it added.

Although the groups did not mention names, the statement was issued after recent posts by Badoy-Partosa — a former spokesperson of the government's anti-communist task force — accusing Magdoza-Malagar of being a "friend and defender" of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

RELATED: Guevarra: Stop dangerous 'red-tagging', file complaints instead

Badoy-Partosa also posted a hypothetical scenario where she said: "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." Despite screenshots of the posts, Badoy denies having made the now-deleted online rants.

The IBP stressed that threatening members of the judiciary is sowing fear "at a ‘critical element’ of the legal system."

"Broadcasts and posts showcasing those who verbally assault judges encourages the public to do the same. If judges can be treated disdainfully without consequence, the Rule of Law becomes a hollow promise," they added.

The PJA also went on to call on the government to "declare that in no time under its watch, will democracy be imperiled by an irresponsible and unfounded assault on a trial judge."

Judges group Hukom and the Movement Against Disinformation also called out Badoy-Partosa over the weekend.

MAD, which has members in the legal profession, said the posts "call for violence that endanger the safety and welfare of judges, court personnel, and lawyers in general; degrade the public's trust and confidence in the judicial system; and undermine democratic institutions and the rule of law."

Judge Magdoza-Malagar is the second judge to have been blatantly red-tagged. Mandaluyong Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, who junked criminal raps against a journalist and a unionist, was also accused of having communist links.

The red-tagging of Quisumbing-Ignacio and the spate of killings and attacks against lawyers prompted the Supreme Court, in March 2021, to issue a strong statement. condemning the acts and stating that “a threat on a lawyer is an assault on the Judiciary.”

The SC promised it will decide on the next course of action to address the incidents of threats against the members of the Bar and Bench, but it has yet to release an update more than a year later.

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