Sotto ‘inclined’ to back bill criminalizing red-tagging

SENATE President Vicente Sotto 3rd is “inclined” to support a proposal to criminalize red-tagging after the security sector — without proof — accused the Senate employees union of having links with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

This after National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo tagged the Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO) as the “eyes and ears” of the CPP at the Senate.

Monteagudo, in a Facebook post, claimed that SENADO acted as the “eyes and ears of the CPP-NPA-NDF (New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) in the Senate to hijack plans and programs of the government”.

“These are dangerous allegations to make,” the Senate minority bloc said in a joint statement, as it called for the immediate passage of Senate Bill 2121 or the proposed “Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging”.

SENADO president Rosel Eugenio in a separate statement denied Monteagudo’s accusation that the group is a CPP sympathizer because of its affiliation with COURAGE, which has also been red-tagged as a communist front.

COURAGE (Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees) is an umbrella organization of public sector unions in the Philippines.

Asked whether he would call for an investigation on Monteagudo’s claim, Sotto said, “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 (communist terrorist group)”.

“I said I want NICA to give me the names of the employees and I will have them investigated,” the Senate chief said in a statement.

Monteagudo has yet to furnish Sotto a list of alleged CPP sympathizers among SENADO members. “Hindi pa (not yet). I just sent word. If ever he does, it will be confidential,” Sotto said.

“But because of this, I am now inclined to support the criminalizing of red-tagging,” Sotto said. Pressed whether Monteagudo should have first consulted him before accusing SENADO, he said, “That should have been the prudent thing to do.”

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Committee on National Defense and Security, partially supports Monteagudo’s claim because he knows that SENADO has been “infiltrated” by left-leaning groups.

“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,” said Senators Franklin Drilon, Ana Theresia Hontiveros, Leila de Lima and Francis Pangilinan.

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