Renowned novelist Lualhati Bautista thanked Filipinos who immediately backed her up after being red-tagged in a Facebook comment by a social media user.
The writer on Tuesday night found out that a Facebook user named Jefferson Lodia Badong accused her of being an “NPA” or New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Bautista took a screenshot of Badong’s comment that was part of a Facebook post. The comment reads:
“Nagbabasa ako. Kilala mo si Lualhati Bautista? NPA ‘yon, oo. Maging siya sinulat niya sa aklat niya. ‘Di lang Google source ko. Natuto ako magbasa ng aklat bago kayo natutong mag-Facebook. ‘Wag mo ‘ko turuan ng facts.”
Bautista found out about it and shared it on her Facebook account, where she called out the red-tagger and accused him of being a “troll.”
“Naglipana ang trolls, kasing demonyo ng COVID-19!” she wrote.
Bautista eventually warned Badong that she has “already talked” to her lawyer and informed him through a new Facebook post that she could file cyber libel charges against him if he wants “to go that far.”
“So please be hereby advised,” she added.
Jefferson Lodia Badong, I have already taken a screenshot of your picture and your profile so i will have something to…
Cyber libel is one of the punishable acts under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10175 which follows the definition of libel under the Revised Penal Code but it has higher penalties.
A law firm said that it is due to “the use of information and communication technologies.”
One of the elements of libel includes the “allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another,” which is expounded as the following:
“The allegation must be a malicious imputation of a crime or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.”
Facebook users who read Bautista’s posts urged her to file a cyber libel case against Badong who accused her of being an “NPA” without evidence.
“Indeed she has a case. Red-tagging is within the definition of libel for it is a malicious imputation of a crime,” wrote a law student.
“Maraming namamatay at napapahamak dahil sa mga katulad niyang mahilig mag-akusa! Ituloy niyo po sana ang kaso,” another online user said.
“Sana ituloy (niyo) po ang kaso laban sa taong naninira ng inyong pagkatao para hindi pamarisan,” commented another Facebook user.
Bautista later on shared that Badong has sent her a private message apologizing for his accusatory comment.
“Ok na. Huwag n’yo nang sabihan ng masama. All is well that ends well ‘ika nga,” she wrote as she shared a screengrab of the message.
Ok na. Huwag n'yo nang sabihan ng masama. All is well that ends well 'ika nga.
Badong allegedly posted a public apology as well but he eventually deleted it. Some social media users were able to take a screengrab, including parody account Malacañang Events and Catering Services.
Badong also reportedly changed his profile name and picture following the online exchange.
Congratulations, you played yourself. pic.twitter.com/uXv4vDomeV
— Malacañang Events and Catering Services (@MalacananEvents) August 11, 2020
Bautista confirmed that Badong deleted his open apology to her and presumed he wasn’t able to take the “bashing” against him by the online community.
Nevertheless, she expressed her gratitude to Filipinos who backed her up and jested that it “proved” she was “kinder” than them.
Nawala 'yung public apology nung Jefferson, dinelete niya. Nagpalit na rin ng pangalan at profile pic. Hindi na siguro…
Bautista is considered as one of the foremost Filipino female novelists in the history of contemporary Philippine literature.
Some of her works that centered on societal issues are “Dekada ’70,” “GAPO” and “Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa?”
“Dekada ’70” was one of her most popular works that depicted a middle-class family’s struggles under former President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.
One of the characters, Julian Bartolome, joined the resistance movement against the dictator through NPA.
The case of red-tagging
Red-tagging is defined by Oxford Dictionary as the harassment or persecution of a person because of “known or suspected communist tendencies.”
The Supreme Court, according to VERA Files, defines it as the following:
“The act of labelling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/ or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists (used as) a strategy…by State agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military, against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies of the State’.”
Philstar.com reported that activists and some journalists critical of the Duterte administration have been “actively and publicly” red-tagged by the government under the Palace communications team, the national police and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict—a task force directly under the Office of the President’s jurisdiction.
Last June, an activist nun was red-tagged by Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office for dissenting against the conviction of veteran journalist Maria Ressa and ex-journalist Reynaldo Santos Jr. of cyber libel.