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Still red tagging

In a statement released over the weekend, Hukom – a group of trial judges across the country – condemned “attacks on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary” and called on their fellow judges to “refuse to be victims and chose to be enablers of the rule of law.”

Following the ruling of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 Presiding Judge Marlo Apalisok Magdoza-Malagar to dismiss the petition to declare as terrorists the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army, former National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict spokesperson and serial Red-tagger Lorraine Badoy accused the judge of lawyering for the CPP-NPA.

Furthermore, Badoy even made an open threat to kill Magdoza-Malagar, and accused her and her husband of being communists in several lengthy and now-deleted Facebook rants.

Calling the resolution a “judgement straight out of the bowels of communist hell,” Badoy hypothesized that “if I kill this judge and I do so out of my political belief that all allies of the CPP-NPA-NDFP must be killed because there is no difference in my mind between a member of the CPP-NPA-NDFP and their friends, then please be lenient with me.”

Hukom stood by Magdoza-Malagar and described her as a “much respected, upright and competent judge.”

The group admitted that while judges have always been vilified and even killed before, “we have often kept silent whenever our decisions came under attack. We have chosen to let our decisions speak on our behalf, aware that judicial remedies are available for the parties affected.”

This is the second time a judge was openly Red-tagged after dismissing controversial cases related to people accused of being communists. In 2021, Mandaluyong Judge Monique Quisumbing Ignacio was also Red-tagged after ruling to free journalist Lady Ann Salem, who was arrested over fabricated charges of illegal possession of firearms. The Supreme Court then responded with a rare statement condemning threats against members of the bar and called the attacks “an assault on the judiciary.”

Red tagging is dangerous and should have been declared illegal a long time ago. Now that judges are being openly targeted, perhaps the country’s judiciary and legislature can wake up and join forces to do more to protect all Filipinos, not just the powerful and influential ones, from this irresponsible practice that shouldn’t be allowed in a democracy but some people have become fond of using to terrorize and intimidate those whose opinions and judgements should be part of a working democracy.*

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November 2022
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