UC Berkeley lecturer accused of being CIA agent, campus faculty respond

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Joseph Scalice

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Faculty members in UC Berkeley’s South and Southeast Asian studies department published a letter Friday to denounce allegations that campus lecturer Joseph Scalice is an agent with the CIA.

These allegations surfaced mid-August when José Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, or CPP, began posting about Scalice on his website and Facebook page, according to Scalice. Seven campus faculty members signed the letter, which defended Scalice’s academic reputation.

“It is absolutely not true, and it could be extremely damaging to him,” said Paula Varsano, campus South and Southeast Asian studies chair and professor. “This is absolute slander. It’s completely fabricated.”

Sison could not be reached as of press time.

The letter describes Scalice as a “talented historian” who has contributed to the research of the history of communism in the Philippines and has had an impact on many students’ lives at UC Berkeley.

Scalice said while he had hoped faculty members would express support, he was not aware that they had drafted the letter until days before it was released. He added that the letter was “immensely welcome.”

According to Scalice, in an online lecture Aug. 26, he spoke about the CPP’s support of Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines. In response to the lecture, Scalice alleged, Sison had instigated a series of “attacks” on him.

In an Aug. 25 post on his website, Sison said Scalice’s claim that the CPP supported Duterte’s administration is an “outright lie.”

In the same post, Sison alleged that Scalice is a “well-exposed” agent of the CIA and is paid to write anti-CPP materials.

Scalice said he is not affiliated with the CIA in any way and is, in fact, “fiercely opposed” to the agency’s actions abroad. According to Scalice, there is no evidence that he is a CIA agent.

According to Scalice, his life, as well as his reputation, are in danger.

UC Berkeley faculty members do not plan on further addressing the accusations in the future, Varsano said.

While Scalice said these allegations do not have any weight in the academic community, they will prove to be an obstacle for him as he tries to establish his research in the Philippines. Scalice added that his work is centered around a “deep love for the Filipino working class.”

Scalice said he will publicly address any future allegations from Sison.

“I was deeply moved by the letter that they wrote and by their characterizations of me and my scholarship,” Scalice said. “There’s nothing more that needs to be said. I’m certain that at a personal level, they will continue to support me, not only through this campaign of Sison’s but over the course of my academic career.”

Contact Julie Madsen and Kelly Suth at [email protected].