Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed the recent red-tagging rampage against the Senate union by National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) director general Alex Paul Monteagudo, which she called a direct attack and affront not only to the employees but also to the Senate as an institution.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, made the statement in reaction to Monteagudo’s Facebook post alleging that members of the Senate union, the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO), are sympathizers of rebel groups.
“Is it just a coincidence that after some Senators called out the government’s failed COVID-19 response, the Intel Chief will go on a red-tagging rampage against the Senate and its employees? Or is this a sinister attempt to create a rubber stamp Senate as the Duterte and his minions try to cling desperately to a crumbling regime?” she asked.
“Ito ay pag-atake hindi lang sa karapatan ng mga kawani na malayang makapagtrabaho sa panahon ng krisis. Direktang pag-atake at pambabastos ito sa Senado bilang isang institusyon at hindi dapat palampasin,” she added.
Monteagudo’s post, which shows a photo attributed to a Facebook page called Just Philippines, alleged that “the Senate of the Philippines is manned” by an organization for the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), referring to COURAGE.
COURAGE, the Confederation for Unity Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees, is made up of workers’ unions from the public sector to which SENADO is an affiliate.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy and spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) even asserted that the task force backs Monteagudo’s claim.
Having worked closely with SENADO in upholding the rights of Senate employees, De Lima said she stands by its members knowing that the union is pro-employees’ rights and not pro-communist.
“Kaisa nila ako sa paniniwala na ang laban para sa hustisya ay laban para sa katiyakan sa trabaho, makatarungang sahod, at karapatan na mamuhay ng malaya at may dignidad. I‘ve known Rosel, the union president, for her integrity and dedication in the service of her fellow employees,” she said.
“SENADO is not pro-communist, it is pro-employees’ rights. Wala na bang ibang maisip na gimik ang mga red-taggers na ito at pati Senado ng Pilipinas paparatangan na communist coddler?” she added.
Recently, De Lima, along with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan, also released a joint statement condemning the red-tagging of the Senate’s employees.
The Minority Senators said that they “vehemently denounce government officials who continue to label, brand, vilify, and harass individuals and organizations such as SENADO as state enemies, left-leaning and subversives.”
“Like COVID-19, we must prevent red-tagging from further spreading. Thus, we find it unfortunate and utterly deplorable that there are officials who resort to red-tagging,” they added. (30)