Minority senators bash NICA chief for red-tagging Senate union

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    MINORITY senators yesterday lashed out at National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo for red-tagging the Senate employees union.

    In a joint statement, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima condemned the move against government officials and said the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon or SENADO is a legitimate union of Senate employees.

    The minority senators issued the statement after Monteagudo, in a Facebook post on Tuesday, claimed the “the Senate of the Philippines is manned by CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front) front organization COURAGE (Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees.”

    Monteagudo added that SENADO, “the Senate’s (employees’) union, serves as the eyes and ears of the CPP-NPA-NDF to hijack government plans and programs.”

    The minority senators said they can prove Monteagudo is wrong.

    “We have been in the Senate long enough and we can attest that the SENADO union never acted as the ‘eyes and ears of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the Senate to hijack plans and programs of government.’ These are serious allegations to make,” they said.

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the NICA chief may have been fed wrong information.

    “He must have been misinformed. I would be the first to sense such if ever. I’ve been there [in the Senate] since 1992,” Sotto said in a message to the media.

    He said Monteagudo sent him a message that the NICA chief only wanted to tell the public that the communists have men even in government offices.

    “He (Monteagudo) sent word saying they are just telling our people that the CPP has tentacles even in the halls of the Senate thru COURAGE, a CTG (communist terrorist group) organization,” Sotto said.

    The minority senators said this baseless red-tagging of SENADO is an attack and defamation not only on the Senate employees but to the institution as well.

    “National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director general Alex Paul Monteagudo and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy’s malicious attacks on our employees must not be taken lightly. The lack of general condemnation and a law which penalizes red-tagging as a crime embolden these government officials and only normalize this prevailing culture of red-tagging,” they said.

    The minority senators also called for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 2121 or the proposed “Act Defining and Penalizing Red Tagging.”

    “We believe that the passage of this bill will serve as a deterrent against red-tagging. We should punish irresponsible officials who act as enablers of red-tagging,” they said.

    The Senate committee on national defense chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson conducted a series of hearings early this year on the red-tagging issues of some ranking military officials on known personalities.

    In its report, the committee did not recommend to pass a new measure to criminalize red-tagging since “recourse is already provided under the Revised Penal Code, special laws, and other juridical remedies.”

    Lacson said he somewhat agrees with Monteagudo with his accusation against SENADO.

    Rosel Eugenio, SENADO president, said they condemn Monteagudo’s “malicious, baseless, and dangerous post,” saying the union has been recognized by the Labor department and recognized by the Civil Service Commission since 1993.

    “The malicious, baseless and dangerous post of NICA Director General Monteagudo is part of the NTF-ELCAC narrative that endangers the lives of our leaders. We are apprehensive that our leaders will now be subjected to vilification, harassment, arrest as they did to other union leaders affiliated with COURAGE, and worst, killing which is happening now against unionists,” Eugenio said.