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Solons seek probe on DILG memo ‘red-tagging’ civil servants group

The House of Representatives' Makabayan bloc is seeking an investigation on the Department of the Interior and Local Government over an internal memorandum which labeled the Confederation of Unity Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), an umbrella organization of public sector unions, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) as communist terrorist groups.

According to Cedric Castillo's Monday report on 24 Oras, the memo, dated March 10, 2021 and signed by DILG Assistant Secretary for Public Safety and Security Alexander Macario, claimed several government bodies had been infiltrated by these alleged communist fronts.

The memo went on to instruct regional directors to “validate” employees who were members of COURAGE, and submit their names to the assistant secretary's office.

Regional directors were further instructed to discourage employees from associating with COURAGE.

COURAGE condemned the memorandum, which it said was an attempt to red-tag their organization.

“Malalagay sa kapahamakan ang aming life and liberty,” said COURAGE National President Santi Dasmarinas. “Ang COURAGE ay isang legal and legitimate organization. We have been here practically for almost 35 years.”

(“This puts our life and liberty at risk,” said COURAGE National President Santi Dasmarinas. “COURAGE is a legal and legitimate organization. We have been here practically for almost 35 years.”)

DILG Officer-In-Charge Under-Secretary Bernardo Florece Jr. denied that the memorandum red-tagged COURAGE, and neither was a “hitlist” being prepared against its members.

In his statement, Florece claimed that their allegations against the government workers organization were accurate given that Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison had identified COURAGE as among the organizations infiltrated by the CPP.

“Iyon po ay walang batayan at hindi po namin nirerekognisa ang mga sinabi po na yan,” reponded Dasmarinas. “Ang tipon ng mga organisasyon ay nagbuo ng COURAGE para panindigan at ipaglaban ang kanilang kasigurahan sa trabaho or security of tenure.”

(“Those claims [by Sison] are unfounded and we reject them completely,” responded Dasmarinas. “Government employee organizations formed COURAGE to stand up for and defend workers' job security or security of tenure.”)

Makabayan bloc member and Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate meanwhile said that Sison's claims did not justify red-tagging COURAGE.

“They cannot even cite an instance na ang COURAGE o ang Alliance of Concerned Teachers ay nananawagan ng pakikibaka o armadong rebelyon,” added Zarate.

(“They cannot even cite an instance in which COURAGE or the Alliance of Concerned Teachers called for resistance or an armed rebellion,” added Zarate.)

ACT Teachers Representative France Castro also demanded that the DILG withdraw the memorandum and “stop profiling teachers and government employees.”

“They are not terrorist groups,” said Castro. — DVM, GMA News