National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, and Southers Luzon Command head Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. remain innocent until proven guilty, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement a day after research group IBON Foundation lodged an administrative complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against the three government officials for their supposed red-tagging of activist groups.

“We will again invoke the constitutional presumption of innocence and the presumption of regularity of performance of duty,” said Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.

On Monday, IBON asked the Ombudsman to hold Esperon, Badoy, and Parlade accountable for their supposed “malicious abuse of authority and negligent performance of duties as public officials.”

Panelo said the Palace would let the legal process run its course in the case of the three high-ranking public officials.

“The Ombudsman is an independent body, a constitutional body. And it will perform its task,” he said.

IBON cited “slanderous” statements, interviews, articles, and speeches made by the three government officials in 2019 and the first weeks of 2020, linking them to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

It also accused them of issuing “malicious and fabricated” reports for the United Nations and European Union about the group “(radicalizing) students as young as seven years old to eventually become (communist) cadres.”

IBON alleged that the three violated Republic Act (RA) 6770 or The Ombudsman Act of 1989 and RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The group asked the anti-graft body to punish Esperon, Badoy, and Parlade for “conduct that is grossly disregardful of the public interest, unprofessional, unjust and insincere, politically biased, unresponsive to the public, distorting nationalism and patriotism, and undemocratic.”

On Monday, Parlade said he expected IBON filing administrative cases against him, Esperon, and Badoy.

Esperon and Badoy, meantime, have yet to issue a statement on the accusations hurled against them. (PNA)