Research group IBON said that the Ombudsman has not acted on the administrative complaint for red-tagging that it filed over eight months ago. Such inaction emboldens Duterte government officials to keep on baselessly accusing organizations and individuals of terrorist links, IBON said. The Ombudsman is not performing its mandate to go after and punish erring public officials and, in this particular case, is becoming a red-tagging enabler.
IBON filed a historic first red-tagging complaint in February 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.
The Ombudsman Act of 1989 (RA 6770) provides that the Ombudsman “shall act on the complaint immediately and if it finds the same entirely baseless, it shall dismiss the same and inform the complainant of such dismissal citing the reasons therefor.” However, IBON pointed out that it has been over 260 days since the complaint was filed and, even taking the pandemic lockdown into consideration, over 150 days since the Office of the Ombudsman went fully back to work.
The complaint was made after a year of constant vilification by the respondents of IBON as, among others, supporting terrorism and being a “legal front” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA) which have been declared ‘terrorists’ by the administration. Respondents Parlade and Badoy and the National Task Force to End Local Communism and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) have continued to vilify IBON in their social media accounts and in public interviews since the complaint was filed, the group added.
IBON said that the complaint was filed in good faith to ask the Ombudsman to hold the respondents answerable for their malicious abuse of authority and negligent performance of duties as public officials, for conduct that is grossly disregardful of public interest, unprofessional, unjust and insincere, politically biased, unresponsive to the public, distorting nationalism and patriotism, and democratic. This is in line with RA 6770 and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The group also said that action on their complaint is more urgent than ever with the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law which is facing 37 petitions against it at the Supreme Court. Red-tagging of organizations and individuals has clearly proven to be a gateway drug to more vicious persecution and even violent attacks on activists.
IBON said that its staff and legal counsels have been inquiring about the complaint but the Ombudsman has to date not been able to report any progress. ###