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On COURAGE, MKP and CPP in the Senate

ART OF WAR by Ka Art Tariman

THE vehement reaction of some Senators to the revelation of Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) on the infiltration of the upper chamber by the CPP-NPA-NDF -- the so-called Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) is not unexpected at all but quite understandable.

That some Senators cried foul and went ballistic over the revelation was an overreaction and somehow exposed the concerned Senators' qualities as legislators. That in reaction the Senate opposition bloc insists to hurriedly pass a bill filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon criminalizing the so-called "redtagging" is way off the mark. That government leaders, the Senators on one hand and the members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on the other hand, bicker over the redtagging issue is to the extreme delight of the CPP leadership.

Of course, the action of Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO), the duly-recognized union of Senate employees affiliated with the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), denying NICA's claim is expected but a bit delayed.

During the Senate public hearing on "redtagging" last November yet, NICA DG Monteagudo as a government witness already identified COURAGE, along with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) as front organizations that infiltrated the government. To support his claim, he even played back a 1987 video of CPP Founding Chairman Jose Ma. Sison naming the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), among other groups, as the umbrella organization of so-called "open and legal national democratic mass organizations" in the Philippines that struggled for "national liberation." The country's spy chief went on to mention COURAGE, ACT and AHW as among the communist front organizations composing BAYAN.

DG Monteagudo made the assertions right at the floor of Senate four months ago and SENADO-COURAGE did not sound a whiff of protest then. The Senators, whose staff and personnel could be SENADO members, sounded neither a protestation nor an alarm.

Following the Senate exposé, the Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines (SWEAP), the national employees association of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, through a resolution approved by its National Council, 13-3-1, formally withdrew its affiliation with COURAGE.

In the two-page resolution issued last January, SWEAP said its affiliation with COURAGE was “put in question in recent years due to the collection of fees and its utilization, as well as the activities being engaged on up to the service provided to affiliate members.”

The resolution concluded that it shall rescind, revoke and repeal its resolution dated April 28, 2000 that affiliates SWEAP National and all its chapters with COURAGE. The resolution also concluded that it would no longer remit monthly dues to the group.

In its wake, NICA publicly declared that several CTG supporters have infiltrated different government agencies, working as state employees across various offices.

In an interview over DZAR in February 4, NICA DG Monteagudo said they know about the individuals who were able to infiltrate government agencies.

We know who they are, that they are even party members, supporters of the CPP. But pinapaalam din natin sa kanila na alam natin. Alam nila na alam namin, alam ng security forces, alam ng gobyerno kung sino sila at binabantayan natin sila (We have informed them that we know. They know that we know, the security forces know, the government knows them, and we are watching them),” Monteagudo said.

In same interview, DG Monteagudo, a very dedicated public servant that started with the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class '81, bared that SWEAP officials and members started to question COURAGE on how membership fees were spent, adding that they also noticed that the group puts forward agenda related to the CPP-NPA-NDF.

He said SWEAP officials and members felt they are being exploited by COURAGE and decided to disaffiliate from the organization.

With this pinpointed information coming no less from the chief of the government's top counter-intelligence agency, SENADO, COURAGE and their ilks kept their silence until the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memorandum circular dated March 10, 2021, ordering its regional directors as well as the regional secretary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to list names of government employees who are proven to be members of groups believed to be fronting for the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Signed by Assistant Secretary Alexander Macario, the DILG memorandum specifically identified COURAGE and ACT as among the CTG front groups actively infiltrating the government bureaucracy.

"In view thereof, it is advised for your office to initiate an investigation on the matter and validate employees who are definite members of COURAGE and if found to be true and authenticated, please submit their names for the perusal and information of the undersigned," the DILG said in its memorandum.

Obviously feeling the heat, COURAGE and ACT adamantly protested:

"This is yet another evidence of blatant terrorist-tagging of legitimate people's organizations, and an unwarranted act of harassment and intimidation. They say there is no red-tagging. This. This is clearly red-tagging," said Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite, president of COURAGE before becoming a lawmaker.

"Tagging their organizations as terrorist groups denies their legitimate demands for safe, accessible, and quality education and the fight for a meaningful salary increase and benefits for education workers, both in the public and private sector," claimed ACT Teachers Representative France Castro in a separate statement.

This time, SENADO led by Rosel Eugenio joined the prey in defense of the beleaguered COURAGE:

"As an affiliate of COURAGE, we were able to achieve those accomplishments through their assistance and other affiliates’ support. Again, in the Senate, we were able to protect our rights, advance our welfare and benefits through the Collective Negotiation Agreement. Having a CNA for a decade is a recognition of our right as a legitimate union.”

“We maintain our position that COURAGE is a legitimate federation of government employees’ union which consistently advocated and concretely works for the advancement of the government employees’ interest and welfare and the people they serve,” SENADO added.

Then on Tuesday, a social media card was reposted in DG Monteagudo's official Facebook account from a Facebook page styling as "Justice on Unattended Social Terrorism or JUST Philippines" with the following message:

Then on Tuesday, a social media card was reposted in DG Monteagudo's official Facebook account from a Facebook page styling as "Justice on Unattended Social Terrorism or JUST Philippines" with the following message:

"The Senate of the Philippines is manned by CPP-NPA-NDF front organization - COURAGE.

"The Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO), the Senate's union serves as the eyes and ears of the CPP-NPA-NDF to hijack government plans and programs."

Many interpreted the JUST Philippines message as thus coming from DG Monteagudo himself simply because he republished it.

Then came the vehement reaction of opposition Senators led by Senator Drilon and joined by Senate President Tito Sotto. Other individuals and groups then came to the defense of DG Monteagudo.

Hence, the renewed raging debate on "redtagging" and on CTG infiltration of the bureaucracy.

"Join the government to destroy the government"

Infiltrating the government bureaucracy including the legislature and judiciary is one of the CTG's 10 major programs in order to weaken the government and to seize political power from the state.

Dividing the government from within and pulling a side to support the bloody revolution is the very essence of CTG's special infiltration, radicalization and recruitment operation within the bureaucracy. Allowing ourselves to fall into this egregious trap would indeed be a notorious disservice to the Filipino people.

Hence, the need not to becloud the issue and to put things in their proper perspective so the masses of the people may be enlightened on the matter.

First of all, DG Monteagudo is right when he asserted that it was neither NICA nor the government which originally claimed that COURAGE is part of the CPP-NPA-NDF, but CPP founder Jose Maria Sison himself:

Ang pagsasabi naman na terrorist organization ang COURAGE ay hindi kami, mismong si Joma Sison, sa video niya nung 1987 ay in-identify niya ang COURAGE as one of those front organization ng CPP (We were not the one who said that COURAGE is part of the terrorist organization but it was Joma Sison himself in a video in 1987. He identified COURAGE as one of the front organizations of the CPP).”

The CTG has all the time the last 52 years to infiltrate the government. Members of CPP-organized/led youth-student organizations who remained in the cities after graduation are encouraged to join the civil service. Few eventually became ranking officials of national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local government units (LGUs). While most of them have not been initiated into the Party, some continued to be fellow travelers and active supporters. Many of them soon joined or led the unions formed by the Party thru COURAGE in their respective agencies.

When the government allowed public sector unionism (PSU) soon after EDSA 1 revolt in February 1986, the CPP lost no time to launch COURAGE, while the moderate Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) backed the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK). At the helm of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), PSU flourished in years to come that COURAGE has been able to organize more than 200 individual unions within NGAs, GOCCs, SUCs and LGUs including SWEAP, SENADO, the Supreme Court Employees Association and the Judiciary Employees Association.

Aside, during the early days of the Duterte administration, the President appointed several personalities identified with the CPP-NPA-NDF to show his sincerity in negotiating peace with them.

The appointees brought their own people inside the government agencies they were assigned. But when they were removed upon the collapse of the tortuous peace talks abroad, their people remained in the state agencies because they have security of tenure.

COURAGE: CPP'S 'eyes and ears' within the bureaucracy?

Many individual members of COURAGE-affiliated government workers' unions may not be aware of the real nature of their confederation and its link to CTG that they could be innocent. But members of the underground mass organization (UGMO) and Party Group (PG) formed within each COURAGE-affiliated union are not innocent and cannot claim or pretend innocence.

In the case of COURAGE, we know that in its every affiliate there is a PG composed of at least three Party Members from the ranks of union members and a unit of the Makabayang Kawaning Pilipino (MKP) as UGMO where selected members are radicalized and ultimately recruited into the Army and/or the Party.

For ACT which is targeting the 820,000 or so public school teachers and personnel nationwide, there is the Katipunan ng Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA) as its UGMO. At the very lest, regional chapters have secret PGs that are components to Party Branches or Sangay ng Partido sa Pagawaan.

AHW which have infiltrated the Philippine Orthopedic Center, UP-Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Lung Center, National Kidney Institute, a number of regional, provincial and city hospitals, and all the way down to the barangay level, it has the Makabayang Samahan Pangkalusugan (MASAPA) for UGMO. Allover, there is a PG in every major AHW chapter.

Are COURAGE, ACT and AHW have served as CTG's 'eyes and ears' within the government? Ordinary members may not be consciously engaged in spying for the enemies of the state but those in the PGs and UGMOs can not claim innocense or absolve themselves.

Ordinary members of these so-called national democratic mass organizations (NDMOs) formed aboveground within the bureaucracy are themselves victims of CTG's deceptive recruitment that we need to awaken them from all these lies and deceptions.

DG Monteagudo is correct in his assessment that many government officials and employees do not know that COURAGE is a front of the CPP-NPA-NDF; and in his clarification that membership with COURAGE, ACT, AHW and other front organizations does not make one a terrorist.

Is criminalizing 'redtagging' a solution?

At present, there is no such crime as 'redtagging'. The Supreme Court is quite clear and categorical in its ruling on the issue.

The CTG invented the term and hyped on it to becloud the real nature and true color of NDMOs as the recruitment pool for UGMOs, the eternal spring of red fighters and Party Members.

Nonetheless, the government is not irresponsibly 'redtagging' anyone or any group but dutifully telling the people the truth about the CTG and its fronts and their lies and deceptions. It is actually truth-tagging.

It is a disservice to the people of not telling the truth about the clear and present danger posed by CTG's special bureaucracy infiltration operation. Aside, the state has the right, duty and obligation to defend itself from wanton attack within and without the bureaucracy itself.

Should telling the truth about the CPP-NPA-NDF becomes a crime of redtagging as Senator Drilon, et al, want to happen, then this government is going to the dogs. How can the state protect itself and the people from the communist terrorists and their cohorts within the government if a law would effectively gag its mouth from speaking the truth?

There is no other way but to call a spade a spade, a kettle black, and of course, a communist red!

So criminalizing so-called 'redtagging' is therefore not a solution. It would only embolden communist terrorists and their allies from further plundering the country and throwing the entire nation into endless chaos and turmoil.

Instead, Senate should rather pass laws giving more teeth to the government's counter insurgency and counter terrorism campaign.

Should the Executive bicker with the Senate over 'redtagging'?

The three independent and co-equal branches of the government to include the judiciary must not quarrel over the 'redtagging' issue but rather work together to effectively end the half-century old communist armed rebellion in the country, the world's longest running insurgency.

The Senate is not NTF-ELCAC's enemy but the CPP-NPA-NDF and their allies. In exposing COURAGE and its role in CPP's special bureaucracy infiltration, the Executive Department is not undermining the Senate, which employees' union is affiliated with the questioned confederation.

Some Senators are perhaps 'politicking' as some sectors claim when they fired from the hip over the 'redtagging' issue, but the Senate as an institution has not and is not defaulting to the enemies of the state.

The real target of the exposé on SENADO-COURAGE should not be the individual member-employees of the Senate but the CPP and the MKP which manipulated the union in furtherance of their bloody quest for political power.

This incident must rather be turned into an opportunity to awaken all civil servants and the general public on the extent, magnitude and danger of communist terrorist infiltration in the bureaucracy.

(Ka Art Tariman is a former cadre of the CPP-NPA communist-terrorist group)


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