Sotto: PH intelligence chief ‘misinformed’ about Senate employees’ union

Published April 6, 2021, 10:18 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

No less than the highest official of the Senate of the Philippines belied the claim of National Intelligance Coordinating Agency (NICA) chief Alex Monteagudo that the upper chamber’s employees are associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing New People’s Army, and political arm National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“He must have been misinformed,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters in a message Tuesday night, April 6.

“I would be the first to sense of such if ever. I’ve been there since 1992,” said the four-term senator.

In his Facebook account earlier Tuesday, Monteagudo shared a material alleging that the Senate is “manned” by a CPP-NPA-NDF “front organization”.

He particularly referred to the union of rank-and-file Senate employees, the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO), which is a member of labor group Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), a network of employees’ unions in government.

Monteagudo, who was previously criticized for sharing misleading information on social media, tagged COURAGE as being part of the communist movement. 

For this reason, the country’s top intelligence official concluded that SENADO “serves as the eyes and ears of the CPP-NPA-NDF” in the Senate to “hijack” government plans and programs.

In March, the SENADO issued a statement slamming the government for its red-tagging activities against organizations, human rights defenders, lawyers, and recently, unionists. 

It also said that COURAGE has consistently advocated for their interests and welfare, and pushed for legitimate demands on salary and benefits, security of tenure and working conditions of government employees.

The union claimed they are now being “targeted” by law enforcement agencies after an anonymous caller asked about their current president supposedly for “updating”.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) had also issued an order to identify who among its employees were members of COURAGE so they could be told to “disaffiliate” from the group.

In January, the employees association of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was likewise reported to have withdrawn membership from the labor federation.