The “red-tagging” by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of Church activist nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan as a “longtime ally” of the communists’ political arm National Democratic Front is covered by “freedom of expression under the Constitution”, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday.
Badoy’s Facebook post on June 17 accused Mananzan of being given a high place of honor in a communist terrorist organization and as someone who has aided and abetted rape, pillage, plunder, economic sabotage, mass murder, blood bath of indigenous people, recruitment of children into terrorist fold, among others.
Badoy made the accusations after Mananzan expressed her displeasure over a court ruling convicting Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and ex-researcher Rey Santos of cyber libel over a story that was published even before Cyber Crime Law took effect.
“Personal expression po iyon ng kung sinuman ang nagsabi niyan,” Roque said when asked if such statement of Badoy is dangerous given that President Rodrigo Duterte has said that the communists is one of the top problems in the country.
“Personal na opinyon po iyan ng writer. Demokrasya po tayo. Hindi naman po puwedeng kapag pupulaan lang ang gobyerno na meron kang kalayaan. Ang freedom of expression po ay guaranteed under the Bill of Rights (sa ating Constitution),” Roque added.
Article 3, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution reads: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
The National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), however, are yet to be declared terrorists by a competent court.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in August 2018, also admitted during a probe in the House of Representatives that the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not verify the list of 600 individuals it wants the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) to declare as terrorists because of their alleged ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Our petition is based on the information provided to the DOJ by the intelligence agencies. It was solely from the Armed Forces and the PNP (Philippine National Police). These names were provided as due notice so the individuals can make the responsive pleading,” Guevarra said.
Back in March 2019, Mananzan said freedom of expression is not absolute, especially when that freedom is being used to degrade women.
Back then, Mananzan was responding to Duterte’s comments that his jokes on women is an exercise of his freedom of expression.
“Of course you can say what you want but you may not say libelous words and words injurious to others,” Mananzan said./Stacy Ang