Lawyers ask SC to hold Badoy in contempt for threats vs judge

“It’s not the punishment we’re talking about here. It’s the gravity and the ominous danger in the independence of the judiciary or the judicial system,” says attorney Rico Domingo

MANILA, Philippines — A group of legal luminaries, attorneys and law school deans have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to convict former anti-riot spokeswoman Lorraine Badoy for her threats against Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar.

Led by solicitor Rico Domingo, the group of solicitors filed the indirect contempt motion in the High Court on Tuesday 4 October. The lawyers also asked the SC to consolidate their petition with the High Court’s memorandum on Badoy’s threats.

The other petitioners are:

  • Antonio La Viña, Former Dean of the Ateneo School of Government
  • Philippine University Lyceum, Dean Ma. Soledad Deriquito Mawis
  • Legal Dean Anna Maria Abad of Adamson University
  • Rodel Taton, Dean of San Sebastian College-Recoletos Graduate School of Law
  • Attorneys Artemio Calumpong, Christianne Grace Salonga, Ray Paolo Santiago and Ayn Ruth Tolentino-Azarcon

“Indeed, the foregoing Facebook posts by Respondent Badoy-Partosa are nothing short of offensive, as they directly tarnish and destroy Judge Malagar’s reputation and credibility, and also damage the respect accorded not only to Judge Malagar, but to all members of due to the Philippine Bench and Bar,” reads part of the petition.

In justifying their petition, the attorneys argued that they had legal authority to bring the case and that the SC recognized the dangers to which legal professionals were exposed as a result of allegations.

Lawyers are urging SC to despise Badoy over threats against judges

Regarding the legal argument, the attorneys said they “can’t really keep their oath
uphold the constitution and the rule of law without invoking the public right to life, liberty and property against the accused Badoy-Partosa.”

They added: “As lawyers and court officials, you have a responsibility to support and improve the administration of justice. As lawyers, they act as upholders of the rule of law.”

Domingo explained in an interview with reporters that a motion for indirect contempt should be filed independently before a court acts on it. He also explained that they didn’t just file the petition because of the punishment.

“It’s not the penalty we’re talking about here. It is the gravity and the ominous danger in the independence of the judiciary or the judicial system. Otherwise there will be chaos in this country,” he said.

Under Philippine law, indirect contempt is a type of contempt committed outside of the presence of the court. It could be disobedience, resisting a lawful order, or “directly or indirectly obstructing, obstructing, or degrading the administration of justice.”

A person found guilty of indirect contempt of a regional court process or higher courts can be fined up to P30,000 and imprisoned for up to six months – or both, according to the court rules.

stop attacks

Domingo said lawyers should stop red-tagging as it affects the independence of the judiciary.

“We have to stop that. Every well-meaning Filipino citizen should join us, the movement against disinformation, so that we can do something about it and preserve the independence of the judiciary and especially the life and limb of the judges,” the lawyer said.

Domingo further explained that there have been instances where threats against lawyers have resulted in actual killings.

“‘Pag hindi natin nai-stop ‘to, bukas mayroon na namang babarilin, mayroon na namang aambushin. May lawyers na naman na titirahin, mayroong re-red-tag-in. (If we don’t stop this, someone could be gunned down again tomorrow, someone would be ambushed again. Lawyers would be attacked, marked in red),” Domingo said.

“‘Pag nared-tag kami, sasabihin nila, ‘ayon nared-tag kasi kommunista ‘yan. Kinabukasan patay na kami. ‘Yan ang nangyayari sa atin. (If we get red-tagged, they’ll say we were red-tagged because we’re communists. Then a day later, we’re dead. That’s what happens to us).”

(READ: Lawyers killed: 61 under Duterte, 49 from Marcos to Aquino)

On September 22, the Chief Judge of Division 19 of the Manila Regional Trial, Malagar, dismissed the Philippine government’s year-long petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army a terrorist. Shortly thereafter, Badoy, notorious for red-tagging government critics, hit red bait, calling Malagar a “friend and defender” of the communist rebels.

Supreme Court: Addressing incitement to violence against judges

Following Badoy’s threats, the Supreme Court itself issued a warning against those who incite violence against judges. The SC warned that the threats could be seen as contempt of court. Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo also said early on that the Supreme Court will protect judges from any harassment.

Judges also came to Malagar’s aid and condemned the attacks on their fellow judges. Universities and school officials also fought back against Badoy’s threats.

Badoy is out of government after serving as spokeswoman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) under the Duterte administration. –