MANILA -- The recent red-tagging of the local children's book publisher Adarna House has reached award-winning British author Neil Gaiman.
The writer behind the popular comic book series "The Sandman" reacted to the news involving Alex Monteagudo, head of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).
In a Twitter post, he only said two words: "Not good."
Many Filipino netizens responded to Gaiman's tweet, thanking the author for using his platform to raise awareness about what is happening in the Philippines.
"Thanks, sir, for raising awareness. Always holding on to what you've written: 'Fairy tales are more than true -- not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.' We are resisting. Much love from the Philippines," one of them said.
"Thank you for lending your platform to spread awareness. It is only the start of more history distortions to come. We fear that censorship can happen in a snap and we need the world to know that there are millions here standing against it," another said.
Monteagudo, who is the director-general of NICA, earlier claimed on Facebook that Adarna House is publishing and selling books that "subtly radicalize the Filipino children against our government."
"This is how the CPP/NPA/NDF radicalize not just our youths, but our children. The Adarna Publishing House published these books and they are now on sale to subtly radicalize the Filipino children against our government, now!" he said.
Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, who is also the spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, also commented on Monteagudo's post.
"The target audience of Adarna is from toddler to elementary level children. That early, they are planting hate and lies in the tender hearts of our children. Mga demonyo talaga," she claimed.
Early this week, Adarna House announced that it is offering a discount on children's books about Martial Law, which may be purchased together as part of the "Never Again" bundle.
The spotlight on Martial Law books came amid the impending victory of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. -- son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos -- in the 2022 presidential elections, based on partial and unofficial tallies.
It's been nearly 50 years since the elder Marcos declared Martial Law, which was marked by rampant corruption and human rights abuses.
AUTHOR OF KIDS' MARTIAL LAW BOOK SLAMS RED-TAGGING
Augie Rivera, who wrote one of the books in Adarna House's "Never Again" bundle, denounced the red-tagging by Monteagudo.
In a Facebook post, he reiterated that he is not connected to any of the communist groups he mentioned.
"Mariin kong kinokondena at itinatanggi ang mga paratang at alegasyon na isinasaad sa Facebook post... Wala akong kahit anong koneksyon sa mga grupong nabanggit," said Rivera, the author of "Si Jhun-Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar."
Rivera also pointed out that he wrote the book in question back in 2001, as part of a five-book series published by UNICEF Philippines and Adarna House.
"Bilang 'historical fiction,' tampok dito ang mga kuwento ng pakikipagsapalaran at pagkamulat ng mga kabataan at mahahalagang pangyayari at aral ng ating kasaysayan," he explained.
GROUP CALLS FOR 'UNITY IN DIVERSITY'
The Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP) has also weighed in on the issue, stressing that the remarks made by Monteagudo about Adarna House's "Never Again" bundle are not true.
BDAP also called on "unity in diversity" among the public, reminding them of the importance of instilling critical thinking skills in kids.
The group believes that "demonizing books negates the hard-earned strides in book development in this country."
Read BDAP's full statement below: