Senators defend red-tagged staff – Manila Standard

Senator Panfilo Lacson and the four minority senators on Wednesday= took the cudgels for the union of Senate employees who were red-tagged and linked to communist rebels.

“l will agree with National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director general Alex Paul Monteagudo but not totally,” Lacson said.

Earlier, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) backed the claim of Monteagudo that the union of Senate employees is a front of the communist group.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy said the NTF-ELCAC is convinced that the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Orgnisasyon (SENADO) is being controlled by the labor group Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

COURAGE has been tagged as a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

However, Lacson said: “Not all the members of the Senate employees’ union are the ‘eyes and ears’ of COURAGE. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Accounts, I have had on many occasions taken the cudgels for them in terms of the Senate employees’ benefits and additional allowances, always listening to their plight and concerns in spite of my knowledge of the infiltration within their ranks.”

“I don’t think the Senate leadership should take action, drastic or otherwise,” he added.

As long as their grievances “are legitimate, reasonable and properly brought to our attention,” Lacson said he will listen and take the necessary and appropriate action.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he will open an investigation on the expose of NiCA for the people to know the truth and for Senate employees to publicly deny and shed light on the matter “for the mutual benefit of all concerned,” he said.

Sotto said they are just telling our people that the CPP has tentacles even in the halls of the Senate through COURAGE, a CTG organization.

“I said I want NiCA to give me the names of the employees and I will have them investigated,” he said.

In a Joint Statement, Senate Minority Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, Senator Risa Hontiveros, Senator Leila de Lima and Senator Francis Pangilinan deplored the red-tagging of the union of Senate employees.

“We vehemently denounce government officials who continue to label, brand, vilify and harass individuals and organizations such as SENADO as state enemies and subversives,” they said.

“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 the government. These are dangerous allegations to make,” they added.

”The Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon or SENADO is a legitimate union of employees in the Senate.”

Through SENADO, three Collective Negotiations Agreements had been negotiated on behalf of the Senate employees with previous senate presidents, including Drilon, who led the chamber for over eight years.

SENADO union upholds the interest and welfare of Senate employees, not of any other group.

“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,” said the members of the Minority Bloc.

“Monteagudo and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy’s malicious attacks on our employees must not be taken lightly.”

They noted that 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.

“Hence, the Senate Minority calls for the immediate passage of Senate Bill 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.

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