Research group IBON will file an administrative complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday to hold government officials accountable for red-tagging the institution and many other activists, individuals and groups. This is believed to be the first case of red-tagging filed against any government official in the country’s history.
Through co-complainants IBON Executive Director Sonny Africa and IBON Board of Trustees Chairperson Bishop Solito Toquero, an administrative complaint will be filed against former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief-of-staff for civil-military operations and now Southern Luzon Command chief Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr, Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
IBON is asking the Ombudsman to hold respondents Parlade, Badoy and Esperon answerable for their malicious abuse of authority and negligent performance of duties as public officials. IBON is also asking that they be punished for conduct that is grossly disregardful of the public interest, unprofessional, unjust and insincere, politically biased, unresponsive to the public, distorting nationalism and patriotism, and undemocratic.
The group’s complaint is grounded on The Ombudsman Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6770) and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act No. 6713). This is also after requesting the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate the matter and participating in the CHR’s subsequent inquiry.
IBON said that the complaint was written after a year of constant vilification of it by the respondents. The most recent, mentioned in the complaint, is when Usec. Badoy called IBON a communist front on the One News program ‘The Chiefs’ in end-January. This was after IBON Research Head Rosario Guzman fact-checked the PCOO’s ‘Duterte Legacy’ information materials. Gen. Parlade meanwhile spent the first week of February in Australia calling out IBON for supposed terrorist financing.
The complaint enumerates numerous slanderous statements, interviews, articles, and speeches in 2019 and the first weeks of 2020 where Badoy, Parlade, and Esperon red-tagged IBON.
This visibly started in March 2019 when Badoy and Parlade had a press briefing in Malacañang Palace about their February 2019 red-tagging road show in Europe to vilify IBON and other activists and organizations. They maliciously and publicly accused IBON of “fabricated reports” for the United Nations and European Union and “[radicalizing] students as young as seven years old to eventually become (Communist) cadres”. Also in March, Esperon named IBON as among Philippine non-government organizations (NGOs) supported by the Belgian government that “act as legal fronts for the CPP-NPA”
The complaint points out that IBON formally wrote the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and National Security Council (NSC), as well as had a meeting with the latter, to ask for the so-called evidence for the allegations. However, despite repeated requests, the AFP and NSC have refused to provide anything while purportedly showing these to media, diplomats, government agencies, and even private sector groups.
In the complaint, IBON underscores how the government’s crackdown on progressive groups heightened following the issuance of Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70) in December 2018 creating the National Task Force to End Local Communism and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). All the respondents are ex-officio members of the NTF-ELCAC.
IBON’s complaint points out how the NTF-ELCAC has launched “a rabid vilification campaign against members of civil society by arbitrarily and unjustly branding them as fronts of the CPP-NPA, which have been declared as “terrorists” by the President. The CHR, on the Sunday before IBON’s filing of the complaint, also called out EO 70 as using counterinsurgency to justify attacks on human rights defenders and activists.
IBON maintains that it is nothing more than a SEC-registered foundation that publishes its socio-political-economic analysis for all the public to see. “Its researches enjoy a reputation of being independent, evidence-based, and credible. It is because of this reputation that its researches on social justice, real economic development, environmental sustainability and democracy, among many others, are widely used by various non-government and people’s organizations in pursuit of their own advocacy work,” read the group’s complaint.###