Senate employees’ union mulls asking CHR, UN for help vs gov’t red-tagging move

Published April 9, 2021, 1:46 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Senate employees’ union is considering asking the courts or the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for legal assistance after the chief of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) linked the organization to leftist groups. 

Officials of the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO) disclosed such plans during a virtual press conference on Friday, April 9, as they reiterated their concerns on the government agency’s red-tagging activities on their group.

“We are already discussing our next steps after the malicious labeling of our group,” said Rosel Eugenio, SENADO president.

“We have a broad venue for redress. Aside from the courts, we can explore the possibility of elevating our concerns before the United Nations, and the CHR,” she further said.

The group also expressed its gratitude to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Nancy Binay,  Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Senate minority bloc senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima and Francis Pangilinan, for standing for the employees and defended the union’s existence as a legitimate employees’ organization in the Senate. 

“The union finds a tower of support in this difficult situation where we are unjustly and maliciously accused of being ‘eyes and ears in the Senate and members of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front),” they said in a statement.

“SENADO was created by the aspiration of employees to improve our working conditions, not by the idea of weakening or overthrowing the government,” the group said.

“We believe that these government officials, for red-tagging the Senate union, went too far and wrought havoc on the lives of hundreds of people that had been victimized by their malicious and baseless accusations,” they said.

The Senate union also said it was concerned that such allegations will divide the attention of the union and impede the advancement of their priority campaigns particularly the Collective Negotiation Agreement, the employees’ health and safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the regularization of casual and contractual employees in the Upper Chamber.

They said NICA Director-General Alex Paul Monteagudo and Undersecretary Loraine Badoy’s accusation against them was tantamount to mocking the security measures being implemented in the Senate against communist infiltration.

“It is an affront to the senators and the officials of the Senate administration in implementing security inside the institution,” they added. 

Last Wednesday, Sotto said he was inclined to support the measure seeking to criminalize red-tagging activities after the Senate employees’ union was accused of having links to communist groups.