BROADCAST journalist Alfonso Tomas “Atom” Araullo has filed a civil suit seeking a P2.07 million in damages against former Palace official Lorraine Badoy and former New People’s Army (NPA) member Jeffrey Celiz for allegedly red-tagging him.
In his 47-page complaint for damages filed through his lawyer Rico Domingo of the Movement Against Disinformation (MAD), Araullo claimed that the acts of Celiz and Badoy have harmed his personal and professional life.
“Their red-tagging statements, which have been widely disseminated, have caused substantial harm to his reputation, leading to both emotional and financial distress,” Araullo’s camp said.
The complainant was referring to the “defamatory” statements made by the respondents in their television program “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” aired on the SMNI News Channel and an online video interview of Celiz posted on the “Today” Page on Facebook from early 2022 to the end of January 2023.
Araullo said in those episodes, he was subjected to “utterly false and malicious vilification” by the respondents who publicly branded him as the “spawn” of “active” CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) Central Committee leaders; accused him of taking part in the “systematic orchestrated attack” against the government; declared that he was a member of the “communist party; accused him of victimizing Filipinos and protecting terrorists; claimed that he is using his profession to destroy and attack others; and accused him of producing documentaries that are faithful to the lies of the CPP-NPA-NDF.”
He said the public statements of the respondents generated public hatred towards him and his mother, based on the public comments and reactions posted by various individuals on the subject videos.
Araullo said the said videos are still being circulated and shown on various social media platforms by other users.
“Plaintiff had suffered, and still continues to suffer, damage to his good name and reputation, resulting to moral shock, fright, serious anxiety, sleepless nights, depression, social humiliation, and besmirched reputation,” the complaint said.
Araullo’s lawyer said the complaint was filed pursuant to Articles 19, 20, 21, 26, and 33 of the Civil Code, which are designed to safeguard every individual’s personal rights, human relations and dignity.
“Mr. Araullo, as a seasoned journalist, television anchor, documentary filmmaker, and co-founder of an independent media organization, has built a credible reputation centered around integrity and truth-telling. These baseless and malicious attacks not only tarnished his reputation and professional credibility but also endangered his personal safety and that of his mother,” MAD said in a statement.
“Given the vital importance of trust in the field of journalism, such defamatory content directly impacts Mr. Araullo’s ability to effectively perform his duties and sustain public confidence in his work,” it added.
Aside from the P2 million moral and exemplary damages, Araullo is also seeking attorney’s fees and cost of litigation against the respondents.
It can be recalled that last October 2022, the Supreme Court ordered Badoy, a former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson, to answer the petition filed by law deans and lawyers seeking to cite her for indirect contempt for red-tagging a Manila trial court judge after the latter dismissed the government’s proscription case seeking declare the CPP-NPA as terror organizations.
The petitioners which include former Philippine Bar Association (PBA) president Rico Domingo, Ateneo Human Rights Center executive director Ray Paolo Santiago, former Ateneo law dean Antonio “Tony” La Viña and Soledad Deriquito-Mawis of the College of Law of Lyceum University, Anna Maria Abad of Adamson University College of Law and Rodel Taton of the Graduate School of Law of San Sebastian College-Recoletos and several lawyers said Badoy’s Facebook post was intended to “assault and humiliate” Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar after she rendered the decision.
The Court also issued a show cause order directing Badoy why she should not be cited in contempt over her social media post red-tagging Judge Malagar.