CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The human rights alliance Karapatan has welcomed the ruling of a Manila court on the case against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) calling it a “victory against State terrorism and intolerance to political dissent.”

It can be recalled that the Department of Justice has petitioned a court to proscribe the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, a move that was quashed by the presiding judge.

“The 135-page ruling by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar essentially affirmed the assertion of hundreds of activists who have been red-tagged and are still languishing in jail, after being arbitrarily arrested on trumped-up charges,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general.

In its unrelenting campaign to clamp down on dissent, the State has been vilifying political activism as terrorism and linking activists from progressive groups to the CPP-NPA which resulted in the arbitrary arrest and unjust detention of hundreds of political dissenters, Karapatan said.

As of the third quarter of 2022, Karapatan noted at least 800 political prisoners in various detention facilities nationwide, with 25 of them arrested under the administration of Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.

In dissociating the terrorist tag from the CPP-NPA, Judge Malagar’s decision in effect underscores the bankruptcy of the state’s legal offensives and red-tagging campaign against social activists, Karapatan said.

This latest development comes on the heels of other legal victories by activists who had been red-tagged and unjustly arrested.

Weeks ago, the Court of Appeals quashed the search warrant used by the police against activists Reina Nasino, Ram Bautista, and Alma Moran.

Unionist Maojo Maga’s conviction on illegal possession of firearms and explosives was likewise reversed by the appellate court last month.

In November 2021, women’s rights activist Cora Agovida and her husband, urban poor organizer Michael Bartolome, were acquitted of similar charges by a Manila court after a full-blown trial.

Now, the “red-taggers” are training their guns on Judge Malagar. According to reports, in now-deleted Facebook posts, one of their talking heads, former NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy not only red-tagged Judge Malagar, but threatened to kill her.

She also said she wanted to form a group and “start bombing the offices of these corrupt judges who are friends of terrorists—even if they kneel before us and beg for their lives”.

In the face of Badoy’s vitriolic attacks, Karapatan expressed its support for exceptionally brave and independent judicial officers like Judge Malagar.

“Judge Malagar’s independent and diligent study and analysis in her ruling should serve as a reminder to other State actors on the need to address the root causes of the armed conflict,” Palabay said.

Badoy’s threats and lies, including recent allegations against human rights lawyers, she said, demonstrate anew the real dangers posed by narrow-minded and fascist intolerance to dissent.

“Her unhinged outbursts leave little doubt on who the real terrorists are, and expose how their continuing incitement of violence on persons and groups have infringed on people’s civil and political rights,” Palabay said. (

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