NICA chief red-tags Adarna House over Martial Law book sale

The children's book bundle sale about Martial Law by Adarna Publishing. (Source: Adarna Publishing/Instagram)
The children's book bundle sale about Martial Law by Adarna Publishing. (Source: Adarna Publishing/Instagram)

Adarna Publishing's announcement of a children's book bundle sale that revisits the realities under Martial Law drew the attention of Philippines' intelligence agency.

Groups have intensified efforts to protect the country’s collective history as they have made resources and information regarding the Martial Law period more accessible, after the elections saw the imminent return of the Marcoses in Malacañang.

The sale drew attention from National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo, who red-tagged the publishing house over their initiative. It can be remembered that last 2020, the NICA chief was grilled by lawmakers due to his repeated sharing of misleading information on social media platforms.

In a post, the intelligence director linked the sale as an effort to a communist plot and described the books as tools to “subtly radicalize the Filipino children against our government.”

National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lorraine Badoy, who currently faces a number of cases in court, echoed Monteagudo’s rhetoric and accused the publishing house of planting “lies and hatred” on children.

Author Augie Rivera, who wrote two of the books in the bundle, condemns and denies the allegations against them. Rivera shared that the books were published back in 2001 in coordination with UNICEF Philippines as a part of a 5-book series called “Batang Historyador.”

Meanwhile, the Book Development Association of the Philippines said in a statement that the allegations made by the NICA director were “far from the truth.” The literary organization highlighted the necessity of respecting history and free speech.

In their statement of condemnation, the Manila Critics Circle underscored Adarna’s stature as an award-winning publisher devoted to truth. “It is a disservice to our young readers to assume that they should be exempted from learning about important events in Philippine history like the imposition of martial law,” their statement said.

Basti Evangelista is a news and opinion writer who focuses on Philippine national politics and sectoral issues. His personal advocacy includes press freedom and social justice.

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