VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Reader asks why intel chief shares inaccurate, unsubstantiated claims vs SENADO, COURAGE

A VERA Files Fact Check reader wants to know why National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo and several other Facebook users share wrong information that can be easily verified.

The query stemmed from a private netizen’s post tagging the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) as a front of the communist movement and, at the same time, supplying a wrong founding date.

The post shared by Monteagudo, among others, also inaccurately described four opposition senators as “defenders” of COURAGE, the umbrella organization of unions of government workers.


On April 7, private netizen Relissa Lucena posted seven photos, one of which described COURAGE as a “front organization” of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), and its affiliate, Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO), “as the eyes and ears” of the communist movement in the Senate “to hijack plans and programs of the government.”

Five of the photos in the post were collages showing activists, indigenous peoples, and CPP founder Joma Sison, branding the groups as “friends with the number one enemy of the Philippines.”

The photoset also carried a picture of firearms and combat gear on a table draped with a 2019 elections campaign tarpaulin of former Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares.

Lucena is one of the parents who spoke at a 2019 public hearing by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that conducted an inquiry on alleged recruitment of minors by leftist groups.

In her FB post, Lucena said Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima, and Francis Pangilinan should “stop defending” COURAGE. She said:

“[‘]Wag niyo na po ipagtanggol ang COURAGE dahil 52 years napo (sic) silang nagkakaron ng operasyon at nakakagulat na hanggng (sic) sa mga panahong ito nakikita namin na kayo ang kanilang mga senador na tagapagtanggol.

Source: Relissa Santos Lucena Personal Facebook Account, Archived: Hinggil sa pahayag ng S.E.N.A.D.O, April 7, 2021

Lucena’s post was shared 52 times, including by NICA chief Monteagudo, as of May 2.


COURAGE, having been founded in May 1986, has been around for 35 years, not 52 as the post shared by the NICA chief claimed. It was the CPP that was established more than 52 years ago, in December 1968.

COURAGE is an umbrella organization of employees’ unions in government agencies, local government units, state colleges and universities, among others. Some of its affiliated unions — including SENADO — were also registered and accredited by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the CSC’s 2015 database shows.

VERA Files Fact Check obtained a certified true copy of COURAGE’s General Information Sheet (GIS) from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), showing its registration with the agency in 1988 as a non-stock trade union.

The reader did not have a difficult time verifying the founding date of COURAGE, providing VERA Files Fact Check with links showing that the government union is not 52 years old. The reader said:

“52 years? The moment I saw that I knew the post [was] up to no good … Alex Paul Monteagudo has shared this post, so there. Why do they get simple factual stuff like this wrong? That definitely doesn’t help their credibility when it comes to their major claims.”

Source: VERA Files Official Facebook Account, From the messages: reader request, Accessed April 22, 2021

Monteagudo, as NICA director general, sits as a member of the 22-man National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and heads its Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management (SAKM) Cluster.

Prior to this incident, the NICA chief had been flagged by Rappler, also a Facebook third-party fact checker like VERA Files Fact Check, for posting and sharing inaccurate information on social media, including a false post alleging that Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago was awarded politician of the year by the CPP committee in London. It was London-based nonprofit One Young World that named the youth representative as one of the politicians of the year for 2020. One Young World, founded in 2009, holds an annual assembly of young leaders around the world and awards outstanding politicians who make a positive impact on young people in their communities or countries.

On the allegation in Lucena’s post, which Monteagudo further amplified, that four opposition senators have been defending COURAGE for the longest time, VERA Files Fact Check did not find any official press release or news report to substantiate the accusation.

What Senators Drilon, Hontiveros, De Lima, and Pangilinan — who were named in Lucena’s post — released on April 7 was a joint statement vouching for SENADO as a “legitimate union of employees in the Senate” that had successfully negotiated three Collective Negotiations Agreement (CNA) with former Senate presidents, including Drilon, who held the post thrice in the past two decades.

In the same statement, the four senators also “strongly condemn[ed] the red-tagging” of SENADO and “vehemently denounce[d] government officials who continue to label, brand, vilify, and harass individuals and organizations such as SENADO as state enemies and subversives.”

Other lawmakers, including Senators Nancy Binay and Koko Pimentel, who once served as Senate president, also attested to the legitimacy of SENADO as an employees’ union.

In a tweet on April 8, Pimentel said: “The Union officers are the legit reps of the senate employees. They supported my effort (when I was [Senate President]) to ‘end contractualization in government service.’ What is so communistic about that?”

Incumbent Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who previously opposed proposals to outlaw red-tagging, said in an April 6 text message to reporters that he is “now inclined to support criminalizing red-tagging.”

This came a few days after Drilon filed a bill in the Senate seeking to hold accountable state actors, including “law enforcement agents, paramilitary, or military personnel,” who engage in red-tagging.

Sotto said Monteagudo “must have been misinformed” in the tirades launched and shared about SENADO.

He added that he “would have been the first to sense” if there is a basis in Monteagudo’s post since the senator has been in Congress since 1992, the same year SENADO was established.



National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Leadership, Accessed April 22, 2021

Courage National Office Official Facebook Page, About Page, Accessed April 27, 2021



Monteagudo as NICA chief

Senate Statements

Sotto on SENADO


(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.)