DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 September) – Multi-awarded journalist Atom Araullo filed on Monday a P2-million civil suit against Lorraine Marie Badoy-Partosa, also known as Lorraine Badoy, for allegedly red-tagging him and his family in a television program over Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
Badoy-Partosa is former Undersecretary at the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Assistant Secretary at the Department of Social Welfare and Development during the previous Duterte administration. She’s also a former spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Araullo, a popular television journalist, also included in the lawsuit Jeffrey Celiz, Badoy-Partosa’s co-host at SMNI, a media network founded by controversial televangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
The complainant also alleged that apart from SMNI, the respondents also red-tagged him on various social media platforms.
In a statement, Araullo said that the filing of a civil action stemmed from a “series of unsubstantiated accusations and personal attacks” allegedly committed by Badoy-Partosa and Celiz.
“It is my considered belief that the nature of their remarks goes far beyond the boundaries of fair criticism, and are designed to discredit, intimidate, and foment public animosity towards both me and my family,” he said.
Araullo also believed that the defendants’ “defamatory remarks” are part of the broader pattern to harass and undermine members of the media whose reporting does not fit their agenda.
“I initially chose to ignore their attacks owing to their apparent absurdity. But because I’ve seen how treacherous, persuasive, and harmful disinformation can be, especially when left unchecked, I have resolved to push back,” he said.
Araullo added he decided to file the charges for the “safety and well-being of my family, but I also hope it contributes in a modest way to protecting press freedom in general.”
He emphasized that he did not press criminal charges against Badoy and Celis.
“I am against the criminalization of libel and would prefer not to invoke it because it also endangers legitimate journalism,” he said. “Still, malicious perpetrators of disinformation must be stopped and held accountable. This is a unique challenge of our time, especially for journalists who are duty-bound to uphold the truth.”
The Movement Against Disinformation (MAD) called on the public to stand in solidarity with Araullo, journalists, social activists, and other truth-tellers and to push back against red-tagging and all forms of disinformation that are serious threats to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
“Red-tagging is a human rights violation. It is a form of disinformation that tarnishes a person’s reputation and exposes people to threats, harassment, and violence,” the group said in statement.
MAD stressed that red-taggers “have no place in a democracy” and its perpetrators must be held accountable under the law.
“The battle against disinformation is a legal responsibility. Our duty to uphold truth encompasses a broader mission of promoting it at all levels of civilized life,” MAD said.
Veteran activist Carol Araullo, the mother of Atom, also filed last July a P2-million civil suit against Badoy-Partosa and Celiz for allegedly red-tagging her. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)