It may be true that justice grinds ever so slowly in the Philippines.
Consider this. It took the Office of the Ombudsman two years to direct three former government officials to answer administrative charges filed against them by a lawyers’ organization.
The Ombudsman’s order, dated June 16, 2022, directed then National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., then Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, and retired Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. to file their respective counter-affidavits within 10 days from receipt of the order.
All three respondents were part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Asked for comment, Esperon on Saturday said the suit was a “typical desperate move” of communist terrorist groups (CTG) taking advantage of the institutions of the government that they seek to overthrow.”
He also said he has not read the order.
The administrative complaint was filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) in December 2020, seeking the dismissal of the respondents from government service with the forfeiture of their benefits.
The NUPL alleged that Esperon, Badoy, and Parlade vilified the lawyers’ group by publicly accusing them as a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), but “unsupported by credible, competent and admissible evidence.”
The lawyers charged the respondents with “conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave abuse of authority, and grave misconduct on account of their participation and role in the formulation and implementation of the government’s policy and practice of tagging progressive organizations and their members as “communist terrorists” or “fronts” of the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), “which in itself constitutes serious threats to their lives, liberty and security.”
The complaint was the fifth of such cases filed against the government officials allegedly engaged in “red-tagging,” or the practice of labelling activists and progressive personalities and organizations as communist terrorists or fronts, NUPL president Edre Olalia has said.
“In this case, respondents have abused the offices they hold and have taken advantage of the positions by persecuting and espousing lies and unfounded accusations and false attributions against NUPL and its members,” the NUPL said in its 47-page complaint.
The Ombudsman said respondents’ failure to file counter-affidavits within the prescribed period “shall be deemed a waiver of their right to submit controverting evidence and the investigation shall proceed accordingly.”
“No motion to dismiss or bill of particulars, or other dilatory motions shall be entertained,” the Ombudsman said.