In early March, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in CALABARZON hosted an orientation for government employees to discourage them from joining groups like Kilusang Mayo Uno and Alliance of Concerned Teachers.
After the event, the attendees were given a pamphlet which said, among other things, that red-tagging is a term coined by “communist terrorist groups” (CTG). This is false.
The 23-page handout labeled five party-list organizations (Kabataan, GABRIELA Women’s Party, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Alliance of Concerned Teachers) and at least 11 other civil society groups as “communist terrorist groups.” It defined red-tagging as:
“… isang salita na ginawa ng mga CTG upang siraan ang gobyerno na kumikilala lamang sa mga personalidad at mga organisasyon na miyembro, may kaugnayan, o sumusuporta sa komunistang teroristang grupo.”
(… a word coined by CTGs to discredit the government which recognizes only personalities and organizations that are members [of], with links [to], or supports communist terrorist groups.)
Source: Peace Philippines, Pamphlet, March 2023
The pamphlet distributed after the NICA-hosted talk did not have the agency’s logo on any of its pages. However, the last page bore the logo of Peace Philippines, a group that describes itself on its Facebook page as a youth-led organization of peace advocates against communist extremists.
Red-tagging is the “vilification, labeling or guilt by association” involving “the characterization of most groups on the left of the political spectrum as “front organizations” for armed groups whose aim is to destroy democracy,” former United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston stated in a preliminary note during his visit to the Philippines in 2007.
A 2011 study of Germany-based non-profit International Peace Observers Network (IPON) traced the origin of red-tagging or red-baiting to the 1950s in the United States (U.S.). At the time, then-Republican senator Joseph McCarthy publicly made unsubstantiated charges and unfounded accusations against U.S. federal government employees of having ties to or leaking information to the Soviet Union.
IPON defines red-tagging as:
“[T]he act of labeling, branding, naming and accusing individuals and/ or organizations of being left-leaning, subversives, communists or terrorists (used as) a strategy… by State agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military, against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies of the State’.”
Source: International Peace Observers Network (IPON), OBSERVER: A Journal on threatened Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines, Nov. 2, 2011
Peace Philippines is a Facebook page created 19 days after then-president Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Anti-Terrorism Act on July 3, 2020.
The page habitually uploads photos which red-tag activists, religious groups and personalities, and even lawmakers without evidence.
These posts were shared multiple times by former NICA director general Alex Paul Monteagudo who, based on reports, has a track record of sharing disinformation online.
(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Reader asks why intel chief shares inaccurate, unsubstantiated claims vs SENADO, COURAGE)
NICA’s director general sits as a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, a position that Monteagudo held during the Duterte administration and now occupied by Ricardo De Leon, a retired deputy director general of the Philippine National Police.
NICA has been holding these orientation events for government employees at least as early as June 2020, based on a report by a government-run news agency.
VERA Files Fact Check sought an official statement from NICA-CALABARZON regarding the pamphlet distributed in their orientation, but was “assured” that the office would get in touch with its reporter instead.
As of writing, NICA-CALABARZON has not reached out to VERA Files Fact Check.
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Peace Philippines, Peace Philippines Facebook Page, July 22, 2020
United Nations, Preliminary note on the visit of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, to the Philippines (12-21 February 2007), March 22, 2007
International Peace Observers Network (IPON), OBSERVER: A Journal on threatened Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines, Nov. 2, 2011
Katarzyna Hauzer, McCarthy and the Press, 2005
The Midwestern Archivist, “McCARTHYISM WAS MORE THAN McCARTHY”: DOCUMENTING THE RED SCARE AT THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL, 1987
National Archives (Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum), McCarthyism / The “Red Scare”, Accessed March 20, 2023
- Peace Philippines, About: Profile Transparency, July 22, 2020
- Inquirer.net, Intel agency chief grilled over ‘fake news’ posts he shared, Oct. 1, 2020
- News5, RED-TAGGING | Youth solon mulls filing charges vs fake news peddlers, red-taggers on social media, Nov. 25, 2020
- Rappler, PH intel chief has a history of spreading fake info online, Oct. 5, 2020
- Official Gazette of the Philippines, Executive Omrder No. 70, Dec. 4, 2018
- Inquirer.net, Bongbong Marcos names retired police general as NICA chief, June 18, 2022
- ABS-CBN News, Marcos appoints Ricardo de Leon to head NICA, Lilia Guillermo to BIR, June 18, 2022
- CNN Philippines, Marcos picks new chiefs of BIR, NICA, June 18, 2022
Cooperative Development Authority, NICA Orients CDA-RO 1 On the Campaign of the Government Against the Communist-Terrorist Groups, June 29, 2020
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)