MANILA, Philippines — The Senate workers' union believes it was red-tagged by Director-General Alex Monteagudo of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) for its condemnation of a memorandum on progressive organizations issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
In a statement on Tuesday, the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (Senado) called Monteagudo's allegations "baseless and malicious" and should be retracted.
Earlier, a Facebook account supposedly belonging to Monteagudo shared a post saying that Senado, an affiliate of red-tagged government workers' union Courage, has been "the eyes and the ears" of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army, and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Senado said it condemned "in the strongest terms possible the malicious, baseless, and dangerous post."
"We firmly believe that such blatant attack against the union, which is a legitimate organization of Senate employees, is a response to our position denouncing the memorandum issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government on the red-tagging of legitimate and progressive organizations and public sector unions, and for supporting COURAGE as an affiliate member," it added.
Senado was referring to a memorandum released by the DILG last March that sought to identify members of supposed communist groups like Courage and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers who were government employees. This was based on the fear that the bureaucracy might have been infiltrated by communist rebels.
Senado denied being a part of the CPP-NPA, insisting that Monteagudo should take down the Facebook post and apologize as it might endanger the lives of its members.
"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," Senado claimed.
"We demand NICA Director General Monteagudo to take down his post and apologize to all officials and employees of the Senate for his disrespect and profanity directed to the institution that is the stalwart of democracy and human rights," it added.
Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monteagudo might have been 'misinformed' in claiming that communist rebels had kept insiders — Senado and Courage — within the Senate for a long time.
The post that Monteagudo allegedly shared was attributed to a Facebook page called Just Philippines. The group implied that the CPP-NPA, which has waged an over-five decades-long insurgency, had managed to hijack government plans and programs by having Senado peek into the documents.
According to the union, the fact that it has worked with several Senate presidents and was hailed by Sotto as the voice of Senate employees should be enough evidence to attest its credibility and legitimacy.
The union also vouched for Courage, adding that its accomplishments were made possible with the help of the government workers' confederation.
"As an affiliate of COURAGE, we were able to achieve those accomplishments through their assistance and other affiliates' support. Again, in the Senate, we were able to protect our rights, advance our welfare and benefits through the Collective Negotiation Agreement. Having a CNA for a decade is a recognition of our right as a legitimate union," Senado said.
"We maintain our position that COURAGE is a legitimate federation of government employees' union which consistently advocated and concretely works for the advancement of the government employees' interest and welfare and the people they serve," it added.
In a message to reporters earlier, Sotto said that he would have observed if such claims were true, having been a senator since 1992.
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