Sotto slams red-tagging of Senate employees' union

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 7) — The Senate president is not taking lightly allegations that some Senate employees are sympathizers of rebel groups.

In a message to reporters on Wednesday, Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III described as unfounded a social media post by National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director general Alex Paul Monteagudo that said members of the Senate union, the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO), were working as the "eyes and ears of the CPP-NPA-NDF."

"He sent word saying 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. But because of this, I am now inclined to support the criminalizing of red tagging," said Sotto.

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.

Sotto said he would have been the first to know if such a thing were true as he had been in the Senate since 1992. He added that he should have been informed by Monteagudo first before he made the post on Facebook.

"That should have been the prudent thing to do!" he stressed.

In a statement on Wednesday, Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima and Francis Pangilinan slammed the "dangerous allegations."

"We strongly condemn the red-tagging of the union of Senate employees and we vehemently denounce government officials who continue to label, brand, vilify, and harass individuals and organizations such as SENADO as state enemies and subversives," the senators said in the statement.

In the post, Monteagudo also said the Senate was manned by the "CPP-NPA-NDF front organization COURAGE."

In a separate statement on Facebook, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict said SENADO president Rosel Eugenio defended COURAGE by saying so-called front organizations were advocating for workers' rights.

The NTF-ELCAC also called Eugenio a leader of COURAGE as well as the Makabayang Kawaning Pilipino, which it called an organization "that advances, supports, colludes, conspires, collaborates in the overthrow of government via armed terrorism of the CPP-NPA-NDF."

Neither SENADO nor Eugenio has issued a comment.