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Activist grandson on Malvar biopic: Why focus on Pacquaio and not on general’s fight against US imperialism?

An activist grandson of General Miguel Malvar said ongoing debates on the upcoming biopic should focus more on the hero’s fight against United States imperialism and less on who was chosen to play the film’s lead role.

Reacting to widespread opposition to the producer’s choice of Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao to play the lead role in the movie “Malvar”, retired University of the Philippines and De La Salle University professor and Marcos martial law torture victim Edberto Malvar Villegas said the film’s depiction of the US’ crimes against the Filipino people that should be the most important consideration in appreciating the film.

“If Pacquiao has other political purpose in agreeing to play the role of Malvar, that pales before the fact that this movie will bring into full light the grievous genocidal crimes of the US against another people,” Edberto said in his Facebook post Monday.

“For, eventually, all past crimes will be revealed before the unflinching gaze of history and the telling of the tragic fate of the Filipino people in general and Kumandante Heneral Malvar in particular during the Fil[ipino]-American war cannot be prevented even by his own relatives,” he explained.

Edberto disagreed with his nephew and the general’s namesake Miguel Malvar who publicly slammed the film project saying, “Apparently, a relative had unilaterally decided that he would enter into an agreement with outside parties to produce the Malvar film without the express consent of the entire clan.”

The younger Malvar’s comment further fueled a flood of negative reactions that generally criticized the producer’s decision to cast Pacquiao to play the hero. Although he has previously acted in several films in the past, those opposed to the project pointed out that the senator is not an actor.

Edberto agreed with his brother, the film’s producer Jose Malvar Villegas, that it is not necessary to solicit the entire clan’s permission for the film to be produced.

“For no one owns the life of the Kumandante-Heneral because history has already claimed him as one of its beloved sons.”

General Malvar is acclaimed in Philippine history to be the last general who fought against the US invasion of the Philippines.

Edberto revealed in his post that the late general suffered even after the Filipino-American War.

HTTPS://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/GENERALMALVARMOVIE

US imperialism’s crimes against Filipinos

Edberto, Malvar’s grandson by his youngest daughter Isabel, revealed that the US colonial government in the Philippines tried to bribe Malvar by offering him the governorship of the province of Batangas and the command of the then Philippine Constabulary, precursor of the Philippine National Police whose chief has recently stepped down due to public revelations of corruption.

Edberto said Malvar refused because he hated the invaders, particularly their burning of villages and torture of prisoners.

For this, the American colonial government seized 700 hectares of his property at the foot of Mt. Makiling in Laguna province that eventually became part of the UP’s Los Baños sprawling campus.

The Malvar clan tried to reclaim the property but was denied by the colonial Supreme Court in the 1930s.

Edberto said Malvar’s last words to his children were to never allow the Filipinos to forget the revolutionaries’ fight against the US imperialists.

“Huwag kakalimutan ng sambayanang Pilipino ang pakikipaglaban ng mga unang rebolusyonaryo natin sa mga dayuhan, partikular sa malupit na imperyalismo E.U. na sa pananakop nito sa Pilipinas ay nagkaroon ng 1.5 milyun katao napatay, karamihan mga sibilyan dahil sa pamamaraan ng pangegera ng mga Kano, kahit ng hanggang ngayon,” Malvar reportedly told them.

(Let not the Filipino people forget the first revolutionaries’ struggle against the invaders, especially the cruel US who killed 1.5 million, mostly civilians, because of how they wage war until now.)

After the general’s death, however, the US colonial government tried to bribe his sons with state-side scholarships and largesse.

Yun[g] namatay ang lolo ko, agad binigyan ng E.U. ang lahat ng mga tiyo ko ng mga schlolarship sa E.U. sa University of Yale, University of Princeton, atbp, at inaapoint ang ilang tiyo ko bilang mga konsul sa embahada ng E.U.. Nang di nila makuha ang isip ng lolo ko maging maka-Kano at huwag magreklamo sa pananakop ng bayang ito, ang pinuntriya ay mga anak niya,” Edberto wrote.

“Kaya, kung may masasabi tayo na maigting edukasyon kolonialismo sa isang angkan, ang nangunguna dito ay angkan Malvar,” he revealed.

(When my grandfather died, the US immediately gave his sons scholarships to Yale, Princeton and others and appointed some of my uncles as consuls in US embassies. When they failed to turn my grandfather and become their stooge, they worked on his sons.

So, if any clan is to be accused of being victims of colonialist brainwashing, the Malvar clan would be among the first.)

The Malvar clan was even given an award as an American Family during the bicentennial of the US revolution, he added.

As a result, majority of Malvar’s descendants, especially those from the male line, were rabidly pro-US, Edberto revealed, adding that descendants from the hero’s daughters are not as rabid as they did not benefit from the bribes.

“Alam ninyo, kapag nagsasalita mismo ako sa mga anibersaryo ng kapanganakan ng lolo ko tuwing Sept. 27 ang ilang kamaganak ko pa ang tumututol kung sinasariwa ko ang pakikipaglaban ng lolo ko sa mga Kano noong panahon ng digmaan Filipino-Amerikano,” he explained.

(You know, when I speak during anniversary commemorations every September 27, some relatives even object to my reminiscing our grandfather’s fight against the Americans.)

Huwag kayo magtaka kung sa loob mismo ng angkan Malvar may pumupuna sa darating na sine ni Malvar, lalo na yun mga nakatira sa US na mahabang panahon. Grace of the US embassy at yun mga nagtratrabaho sa US establishment,” Edberto said.

(Do not be surprised if within the Malvar clan, there are those who are against the film, especially those who have lived in the US for the longest time. They are benefactors of the US Embassy and those who worked in the US establishment.)

Edberto said it was his brother Jose who approached Pacquiao to help in the production of the film after several unsuccessful attempts to solicit support from businesspersons, including those who have been producing historical biopics, such as the prominent and rich Ortigas clan.

He added that Pacquiao did not bankroll the film but asked his friends to contribute a total of P100 million.

“Sabi ng brod ko patak-patak dumarating ang pera pero aabot sa P100M, ang minimum kapital para magawa ang sine,” he said.

(My brother said the money came in trickles but it has reached P100 million, the minimum capital to produce the film.)

Edberto said that the contributors were local national bourgeoisie who hate the US but do not want to be identified because of partnerships with US businesses.

The huge budget would be spent mostly on filming the trench warfare scenes, Edberto said.

He however revealed that Pacquiao wanted to play the role of Malvar.

Edberto said he edited the movie script. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Hopes for justice of drug war victims’ mothers buoyed after passing letters to Pope

By Visayas Today

Two Filipinas who lost young sons to the bloody war on drugs being waged by President Rodrigo Duterte believe their hopes for justice received a major boost after letters they wrote seeking the help of Pope Francis were received by the pontiff’s aides in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, October 9.

Marissa Lazaro, who lost her 20-year old son Chris in 2017, and Katherine Bautista, who found her 21-year old stepson John Jezreel in a Manila morgue days after he went missing in January 2017, were in Rome as part of the post-performance talk of the play “Tao Po” (Is Anybody There?), a four-part monologue by cultural activist Mae Paner, who portrays characters from the murderous campaign that human rights groups say may have claimed upwards of 30,000 lives since mid-2016, when Rodrigo Duterte became president.

The play is making the rounds of six European cities, including Rome, which hosts thousands of migrant Filipino workers and where supporters of Duterte have mounted a campaign to boycott the performance.

The two mothers are involved with Rise Up for Life and Rights, a faith-based support group for families of victims of extrajudicial killings that has filed a complaint against Duterte before the International Criminal Court.

This week, Rise Up, supported by the National Union of People’s Lawyers filed a petition asking the ICC to admit more evidence against Duterte.

In response to the ICC’s opening of a preliminary examination into the allegations, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the Court, which maintains it retains jurisdiction over complaints filed while the country was still a member.

Marissa Lazaro’s handwritten note to Pope Francis. (Photo courtesy of Rise Up for Life and for Rights.)

Bautista and Lazaro had to maneuver through the crush of thousands of people who filled St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s general audience.

In a message to reporters on social media, Lazaro said: “Nag-abot ang paningin namin ni Pope. Saya-saya ko kasi nung abutin nung mama yung sulat, ko pakiramdam ko nakarating sa kanya ang mensahe para sa hustisya sa anak ko.”

(The Pope and I locked gazes. I was so happy when an aide accepted my letter, I felt certain my message asking justice for my son had reached him.)

Bautista, on the other hand, said she wept: “Naiyak ako. Iba pakiramdam ng saya na sa Roma ko pa nakita ang Papa. Paulit-ulit akong nagsabi ng, ‘Please get this’! Kaya nung kinuha ang sulat ko nakaramdam ako ng pag-asa hindi lang para sa stepson kundi para sa lahat ng biktima ng walang habas na pagpaslang sa Pilipinas.”

(I cried. It’s a different joy you feel seeing the Pope in Rome. I repeatedly said, ‘Please get this!’ Which is why when my letter was received I felt hope not only for my stepson but for all the victims of the indiscriminate killings in the Philippines.)

Pope Francis waves to well-wishers at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (Photo courtesy of Rise Up for Life and for Rights.)

Even before the Tao Po team arrived, Duterte supporters have been hounding Philippine human rights advocates who have brought the campaign against the war on drugs to Europe, including the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In Iceland, which Duterte vilified for spearheading a resolution seeking an investigation into the war on drugs and its massive death toll, Lazaro was hounded by supporters of the president who interrupted her account at a forum of her son’s death and accused her of “dramatizing” her story. #

Luis Teodoro leads 2019 Titus Brandsma Awards winners

Veteran journalist and activist Luis V. Teodoro leads this year’s recipients of the prestigious Titus Brandsma Awards, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) announced.

The former two-time University of the Philippines College of Communication dean and People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya) founding chairperson is named the Freedom of the Press awardee by the the Titus Brandsma Media Center, media ministry of the Carmelite Order in the Philippines.

Teodoro is a CMFR trustee and currently writes a column for BusinessWorld.

“Teodoro is recognized for being ‘a journalist, editor, and journalism educator whose incisive critiques of Philippine media have inspired generations of media practitioners and scholars,’” the CMFR announcement said.

“Many of the latter are now established journalists, editors and media scholars who, in turn, imparted to their audience and students, the ethical principles and the professionalism of the craft of journalism that they have learned from Luis. His sharp analyses in his columns often step on the interests of the powerful and the mighty, and necessarily so as the overall thrust of his media advocacy is a democratized access to information for a learned society,” it added.

Six other journalists are also recipients of the 2019 Titus Brandsma Awards:

  • Ed Lingao, TV5, for Leadership in Journalism;
  • Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), for Emergent Leadership in Journalism;
  • Belina San Buenaventura-Capul, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), for Leadership in Communication and Culture & Arts;
  • Gina Lopez (posthumous), ABS-CBN Foundation, for Leadership in Environmental Communication & Advocacy; and
  • Fr. James Reuter, SJ (posthumous), for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Esguerra told Kodao he is deeply honored by the recognition.

“I am deeply honored and at the same time humbled by the recognition. But more importantly, may the memory of Titus Brandsma inspire all of us to stay true to journalism’s calling, at a time when press freedom — and truth — are under heavy attack,” Esguerra said.

The Titus Brandsma Awards are given to individuals and groups especially to journalists in print and broadcast media who shares the virtues of Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite priest, journalist and educator who was martyred in 1942 in Nazi Germany’s Dachau Concentration Camp for writing and defending the truth.

Brandsma was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 3, 1985 and was declared a “Martyr of Press Freedom.”

The award is the Philippine version of the international Titus Brandsma Award given by the Union Catholique Internationale dela’ Presse, the world forum of professionals in secular and religious media.

Former winners of the local Titus Brandsma Awards include Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Conrado de Quiros, Rappler’s Patricia Evangelista, Vera Files’ Yvonne Chua, GMA’s Kara David and Howie Severino, MindaNews’ Carolyn Arguillas and others.

The awardees will formally receive their awards in a ceremonial dinner on October 28, at the SM Skydome, North EDSA in Quezon City.

The award comes with a National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva-designed trophy. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

[The reporter is the 2015 Titus Brandsma Award for Emergent Leadership in Journalism recipient.]

On World Teachers’ Day, mentors reject 2k salary increase proposal

Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) reject a proposal in Congress to increase their monthly salaries by P2,000, saying the amount is not enough and is “insulting.”

As ACT members hold simultaneous concerted mass actions Friday across the country’s 13 regions on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, the teachers reiterated their demand for a P30,000 minimum monthly salary.

“We reject the P2,000 increase proposed in Congress as it insults our dignity as teachers,” ACT Teachers Union Region III president Romly Clemente said in a statement.

“We deserve a substantial salary increase for us to live decently and with dignity and self-respect,” she added.

In Central Luzon, ACT Teachers Union members are gathering in four activity centers in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac to press their demand for salary increases.

ACT members in Metro Manila will also conduct a similar activity in Mendiola at three o’clock this afternoon.

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, the legislator seen closest to President Rodrigo Duterte, earlier filed a bill proposing a P2,000 salary increase for public school teachers.

In his 4th State of the Nation Address last July, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law that will raise the pay of government workers, including public school teachers. 

“To the teachers who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young, what you have been asking for is included here. It may not be so substantial but it will tide you over,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Meanwhile, several other senators reportedly filed bills seeking to substantially raise the salaries of public school teachers.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 19 seeking teachers’ entry-level salaries to not less than P30,000 a month from the current P20,754.

“We should provide teachers with the right incentives to encourage them to remain in the noblest profession of educating and molding our youth to become productive citizens of this country,” Drilon explained.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian for his part filed a bill raising the salary grade  (SG) of public school teachers with the rank of Teacher I, II and III to SG 13, 14, and 15 from their current SG 11, 12, and 13, respectively.

Sen. Sonny Angara meanwhile is seeking to raise the salary grade of public school teachers to SG 19 at the minimum, which has an equivalent pay of P45,269 to P50,702.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Francis Pangilinan for their part proposed to increase the salary of public school teachers by P10,000, which will be implemented in three tranches.

Sen. Nancy Binay also filed a bill seeking to raise the salary of entry-level teachers to P28,000 and non-teaching personnel to P18,000.

Sen. Pia Cayetano also filed a bill seeking a pay hike for teachers.

ACT is commemorating World Teachers Day today, October 4, as its actual date, October 5, falls on a Saturday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups blame Duterte’s martial law for the deaths of 52 environmentalists

An international anti-corruption group has revealed that the Rodrigo Duterte government’s heavy-handed rule in Mindanao and many other parts of the country has caused the deaths of 52 environmentalists in the hands of the military in the past three years.

In a report entitled “Defending the Philippines”, the group Global Witness said that Duterte’s “martial law has emboldened [the military] to use force to silence environmental and indigenous activism, with 52 defenders have been killed extra-judicially by the army in the last three years.”

The group, in a press conference in Quezon City last Tuesday, September 24, said it uncovered shocking evidence of widespread attacks against land and environmental defenders when they stand up to destructive coal, agribusiness, mining and tourism projects.

The group also identified major local and international corporations as the beneficiaries of the systematic attacks against Filipino citizens.

 The report accused major players Dole Philippines, Del Monte Philippines, San Miguel Corporation, Standard Chartered and the World Bank of “corporate greed” that caused killings and widespread displacement of marginalized communities.

The revelations come after the Philippines was named last July as the world’s deadliest country for land and environment defenders in 2018 back, sparking widespread international coverage of the issue.

In his presentation, Global Witness Senior Campaigner Ben Leather said his group’s report could not be clearer in its finding that the Duterte government has miserably failed in protecting land and environmental defenders.

“Businesses from coal to agribusiness, from mining to tourism, are allowed to run rampant and irreparably damage the lives of ordinary Filipinos,” Leather said, adding corruption and conflicts of interest within government affecting well-known politicians also remain out of control.

“If the Filipino government is going to deliver on its promises, it has to protect land and environmental defenders and stand up to big business and corrupt politicians. And if companies and investors like Del Monte Philippines, San Miguel and Standard Chartered want their sustainability and human rights pledges to be anything other than poisonous hot air – then they too need to take immediate action to tackle the root causes of these attacks and support defenders,” Leather said.

Impunity against land and defenders

Local environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE), a partner to the investigations, agreed with the Global Witness analysis that “the killings are the sharp end of a broader impunity against land and environmental defenders.”

“The Global Witness report reveals damning evidence of how Duterte’s military and paramilitary have essentially functioned as mercenaries for large-scale mining and other extractive and destructive business projects. By using brute armed force to guarantee and secure dirty investments, Duterte has indeed failed in his promises to protect the environment and indigenous peoples, and curb corruption,” Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Leon Dulce said

“Martial Law is clearly not the so-called tool to save democracy that Malacanang wants to paint it to be. For us Filipino environmental defenders, it has functioned as a tool for repression and to promote the unimpeded plunder of our natural resources by big businesses,” Dulce added.

Kalikasan PNP demanded an independent into the function of military and paramilitary groups as ‘mercenaries of large-scale mines and other extractive and destructive projects across the Philippines.’

‘We also demand for the immediate cessation of the Martial Law declaration over Mindanao and the institutionalization of a national policy that will protect the rights of Filipino environmental defenders and other human rights defenders from the atrocities especially of state security forces,” Dulce said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Despite filing of charges, military refuses civilian jail for Alexa Pacalda

They could not force her to say she indeed is a surrendered New People’s Army (NPA) fighter, so criminal charges were finally filed against human rights worker Alexa Pacalda at the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office last Saturday.

Seven days after her supposed arrest last September 14 in General Luna town and long before the 36-hour deadline for filing of criminal charges, the 201st Infantry Brigade-Philippine Army (IBPA) charged Alexa with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition in what the military obviously planned to be a secret inquest proceeding last September 21. Her lawyer and family were not informed.

But it did not turn out exactly the way the military wanted it.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers’ (NUPL) Atty. Kristina Conti was nearby, giving a lecture on human rights reporting to dozens of Southern Tagalog journalists, when she found about the inquest proceeding. Journalists who attended the training received a tip that the young human rights defender would be taken to Lucena City from the military camp in Calauag town where she is detained. After a phone call from her NUPL colleague and Alexa’s lawyer Maria Sol Taule, Conti rushed to the Quezon Provincial Capitol compound where the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office is located.

She was met by Alexa’s father Arnulfo and Karapatan-Quezon Chapter colleagues, gratitude and relief on their faces. Conti’s entrance at the fiscal’s office, however, was different. The three lawyers from the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO) tried to hide it but betrayed their surprise by asking where she came from, appearing all of a sudden when the inquest should have been secret.

A local activist (left) takes a selfie with a military intelligence operative (second from left) at the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office)

The mood inside the old and stuffy building became tenser when Alexa’s fellow activists called out the many intelligence operatives who kept on taking photos and videos of them. “Kanina ka pa kuha nang kuha ng photo ko, a. Para di ka na mahirapan, selfie na lang tayo,” said one to an intelligence officer in civilian clothes. (You’ve been taking lots of photos of me. Why don’t we take a selfie to make it easier for you?) The latter tried to play it cool and obliged but the mood did not lighten. Pretty quickly, more intelligence operatives, four of them, entered the building, apparently to assist their comrades.

Arnulfo Pacalda (left) listening to military personnel inside the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

All the while, Arnulfo and his young son with him kept their cool. As the lawyers were wrangling inside the fiscal’s room, they were seated at a distance. At exactly three o’clock, Arnulfo’s phone sounded, reciting the Catholic’s Three O’Clock Prayer. He stepped out of the room, went to a corner and finished the prayer with his head bowed.

Inside the prosecutor’s office, Conti was still being quizzed by the most senior of the three JAGO officers. She was asked if she is a local lawyer, explaining her sudden appearance. She in turn badgered her counterpart where Alexa was so she could consult with her client. The soldiers refused, even when the fiscal herself asked. “She is nearby. But there are security concerns,” the soldiers cryptically said. “But a lawyer must have access to her client, doesn’t she?” Conti shot back. The fiscal agreed and Alexa was finally brought inside.

Arnulfo and Alexa embrace at the Lucena City Regional Trial Court lobby.

Arnulfo and Alexa’s younger brother rushed to hug her as she entered the building. The embraces were long and tight. Beside them, Conti was smiling. When it was her time to speak to her, Conti asked, “Naaalala mo ako?” to which Alexa replied “Yes” and smiled back. Alexa had been Conti’s paralegal on some human rights cases they both collaborated on in the recent past.

Alexa and her younger brother embrace inside the Lucena RTC building.

Alexa looks nowhere near that of the female NPA fighter toting an AK-47 assault rifle and undergoing military training on the photos being shared on social media. (The photos appeared online only when Alexa’s video was released by her lawyer refuting giddy claims by her captors they had another surrenderee.) Alexa is hardly five feet tall and is very slight of built.

Arnulfo and Alexa Pacalda outside the prosecutor’s office.

Even with Alexa already inside the prosecutor’s office, the JAGO and the soldiers still refused to give Conti time to consult with her and her family in private. What followed were argumentations that went in circles. Finally, with the public prosecutor’s prodding, the JAGO relented and Conti and the Pacaldas were given 15 minutes at a dark corner of the building, surrounded by file cabinets outside of the female toilet.

Atty. Conti and the Pacaldas in a private consultation.

Back at the prosecutor’s office, Alexa was asked by Conti if she indeed signed the so-called surrender papers the JAGO submitted as part of its evidentiary documents. The young prisoner replied, “I do not remember anything.” Conti later told Kodao that even if she did, Alexa was obviously under extreme duress after being captured by the soldiers, tortured with sleep and food deprivation for 30 hours and forced to sign the proffered papers they told her would lead to her freedom. The same was true when her father Arnulfo was made to sign a document the Philippine Army said would help his daughter regain her freedom.

Conti asked the prosecutor if Alexa could already be committed to a civilian jail facility. The soldiers objected. The fiscal asked police officers present on who had authority over the prisoner. The police said the soldiers merely informed them two days after the abduction that Alexa had been in their custody but was never in the PNP’s. The fiscal then said Alexa’s lawyers had to file a motion first before deciding on Conti’s request. (Alexa’s lawyer and family filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus at the Supreme Court Monday, September 23.)

Military intelligence operatives taking photos and videos of the proceedings and the activists present.

Alexa’s other lawyer, Taule, told Inquirer.net Saturday that the criminal charges filed against her proves the soldiers were lying.  “They can’t win over Alexa despite detention of seven days in their camp so their game now is to file charges,” she said. The military for its part said they still consider Alexa as a surrenderee, admitting, however, that things have changed since they made public Alexa’s so-called surrender document. Lt. Col. Dennis Cana, public information officer of the Philippine Army’s Southern Luzon Command, told Inquirer.net that Pacalda’s video message refuting the military’s claim “will have a very strong effect on her surrender status” as her sincerity to lay down her arms “is put into question.”

After the inquest proceeding, Alexa was quickly brought outside to a parked black pick-up truck with darkened windows. The Pacaldas were allowed the quickest of goodbyes. By then, more fellow human rights defenders from all over the province had gathered at the gate and managed to chant, “Alexa Pacalda, palayain!” as the soldiers’ convoy sped off back to their camp in Calauag.

Alexa’s family and colleagues shouted “Alexa Pacalda, palayain!” as the military convoy taking her back to Calauag, Quezon sped by.

Conti said she was glad to have assisted Alexa during the inquest. “She really did not surrender as the military claimed,” she said. She also pointed out that if indeed Alexa was in possession of a firearm and blasting caps, it was not the 201st IBPA’s role to arrest her. It was the PNP’s. Alexa’s case is obviously a case of unlawful arrest or abduction, she said. # (Report and photos by Raymund B. Villanueva)

COURAGE condemns arrest of former official

The country’s biggest public sector union confederation condemned the arrest of its former officer accused by the police as a high-ranking officer of the underground communist movement.

The Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) said Dizon’s arrest is illegal and is a direct attack on the essence of public sector unionism.

“Dizon was illegally arrested based on trumped up charges like murder in Bayugan, Agusan Del Sur and linking her to the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) by planting files such as ‘communist’ paraphernalia, flash drives and the like…[A]lso caught in her supposed possession are gun and explosives which are pure desperate moves by the state forces,” COURAGE president Santiago Dasmariñas said in a statement.

Dizon was arrested by the San Pedro Police Department at her home in San Pedro, Laguna at 3 A.M. today on the basis of a warrant of arrest for murder issued by Branch 7 of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court,

COURAGE said Dizon is currently detained at the San Pedro police precinct.

“[T]he state has been aggressive in witch-hunting its critics primarily in the government sector,” Santiago said, adding many of their leaders, who are government workers, have been receiving threats and intimidation and even given trumped-up charges as well as suspension from their work only because of their assertion of their rights for a national minimum wage and ending contractualization in civil service.

Santiago revealed that Dizon were among those who petition the Supreme Court for a Writ of Amparo and Writ of Habeas Data following the several incidents of tailing she suffered from suspected military intelligence operatives in 2015.

In July 11 of that year, Dizon sought refuge and spent the night at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in Ortigas, Mandaluyong City for fear of being abducted or assassinated by the men who she said had been tailing her.

“Progressive organizations, individuals, and leaders said they have been receiving threats and forms of harassment from the military agents for their affiliation and organizing work, and the case of Dizon is not new as the state has been relentlessly silencing them for their tireless contribution in advancing people’s rights,” Santiago said.

Laguna police director Eleazar Matta also reportedly alleged that Dizon currently acts as secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ National Organizing Department, replacing National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants Rafael Baylosis and Adelberto Silva.

Santiago, however, said the red-tagging of progressive individuals and organizations is no different as during former dictator Marcos’s martial rule. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Police arrest red-baited public union organizer

Police operatives arrested a public sector unionizing advocate in Laguna early Wednesday, September 18, accusing her of being the replacement of arrested National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants.

Antonietta Setias Dizon was arrested in her house in Barangay Rosario, San Pedro City on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by Branch 7 of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Agusan del Sur.

News reports said that a .38 caliber revolver, ammunition and blasting caps were found in Dizon’s possession at the time of her arrest.

Laguna police director Eleazar Matta also reportedly alleged that Dizon currently acts as secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ National Organizing Department, replacing NDFP consultants Rafael Baylosis and Adelberto Silva.

Baylosis and Silva were separately arrested in 2018 and were also charged with murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Baylosis however was freed early this year after the Quezon City RTC said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

A former deputy secretary general of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Dizon earlier complained of being tailed by military operatives, forcing her to temporarily seek sanctuary inside the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) offices in Pasig City last July 14, 2015.

It resulted in a 10-hour standoff between Dizon and her pursuers that only ended when lawyers and progressive lawmakers fetched her from the building.

Dizon’s photo of the vehicle that repeatedly tailed her in July 2015.

Prior to the standoff, Dizon told Pinoy Weekly that she had been tailed in succession on July 6, 10 and 11 by a Toyota Innova vehicle that was later traced by an IBP official to one Norberto delos Reyes, of Room 83, Condo B, Camp Crame, general headquarters of the Philippine National Police.

Public servant, public sector unionizing advocate

Before being elected as a COURAGE officer, Dizon was an official of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

“I came into government, ironically, because of Cory Aquino,” she told Pinoy Weekly in 2016. It was Cory, Dizon said, who first inspired her to enter public service in 1986.

“I even recruited my fellow members of UPSCA (University of the Philippines Student Catholic Action, the university’s largest Catholic organization) in UP Manila to join me in OWWA,” Dizon said.

“As part of OWWA, I was able to travel all over the world to meet migrant Filipinos in need,” she said. “That is how I began developing a deeper understanding of their plight.”

Later, Dizon was appointed as executive director of one of DOLE’s staff agencies, the Bureau of Rural Workers, where she was exposed to the plight of rural-based workers and peasants.

Barely a year into public service, Dizon recounted that she realized the need to organize government employees and unite them to fight for their rights and contribute to social change.

Dizon said she came to understand the connections between public-sector workers’ struggles and the overall people’s struggle for democratic rights. She even began organizing fellow middle managers.

 “We became involved in the campaign against the privatization of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). We picketed Malacañan as well as the Senate in 1989,” she said.

 “I availed of early retirement in 2003. I no longer wanted to be tied up with government as I criticized its policies,” she added.

Since her retirement, Dizon told Pinoy Weekly that she devoted much of her time advocating for public-sector organizing. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Return Vic’s hearing aid,’ wife demands from police

Fides Lim, wife of detained National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Vicente Ladlad, again demanded the return of her husband’s hearing aid she said was taken by the police arresting team.

“[T]hat Oticon pair cost me a lot, we’re still waiting for the police team to return these. It’s fitted just for Vic’s ear canal, what use is it to you?” Lim wrote on her Facebook account following the first hearing on the illegal possession of firearms and explosives case against Ladlad and companions Alberto and Virginia Villamor at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Thursday, September 12.

Lim was actually commenting on Police Major Raleigh Herbert Ampuan’s testimony that medical examinations on Ladlad and the Villamors were duly performed and that their arrest was lawful.

Ampuan is a Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory personnel at Camp Crame.

Lim said Ampuan should have noted in his report that Ladlad had difficulty of hearing he wasn’t wearing his hearing aid during their arrest.

Doctor doctoran,” (playing doctor) Lim said of the police doctor who testified he was limited to looking for just physical injuries on the three “as he was not in a hospital.”

‘Irregular’

In his testimony, Ampuan admitted those arrested last November 8 should have been brought to the nearest government hospital.

“I asked them why did they not bring those arrested to the nearest government hospital. They insisted that I should be the one to examine the three,” Ampuan said during the cross examination.

Ampuan explained it was the command of the Chief of PNP [Police Director General Oscar Albayalde].

Ampuan also admitted there was no written request for the PNP Crime Laboratory to do the physical examination.

“When I asked them [QCPD] for the request, they just told me they would give it later,” he explained.

In his medico-legal reports, Ampuan noted that the three had the same blood pressure of 140/90. He also said he did not note of any “external findings [injuries].”

‘Lies’

Lim, however, said “Ampuan’s testimony was “sapped/zapped by a miasma of untruths,” insisting that no physical examination were conducted on the arrested persons.

She pointed out that while that Ampuan’s medical report was time-stamped “7:11 AM”, the “Request for Physical Examination” by the QCPD superintendent, based on the “Received” stamp marks of the PC Crime Laboratory, indicate the times of “8:30 AM” and “8:35 AM.”

“Why would a police doctor do something without first awaiting the order of his superior?” Lim asked.

Lim also pointed out that the blood pressure of all three was a uniform “140/90” on the three exam sheets she said is an unlikely occurrence.

She added that Virginia told her that no medical examination was performed on them.

“More peculiar is, why didn’t the doctor note down that Virginia had difficulty standing up and that walking was even more excruciatingly difficult? Wasn’t he supposed to have done a ‘physical examination’ to determine the presence of superficial injuries?” Lim asked.

Virginia’s hip and leg injuries were aggravated when the arresting officers forcibly forced her to lie face down on the floor during the arrest, Lim explained.

“It’s symptomatic of the entirety of this Case of Planted Firearms vs. Vic Ladlad and the Villamors – TRUMPED UP as with other fabricated cases against other activists and critics of the Duterte government,” Lim said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gunmen set fire to newspaper plant; 2 hurt

Two workers of the Abante News Group were slightly injured when four masked gunmen attacked its printing plant in Parañaque City and attempted to burn it down early Monday, September 9, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in an alert.

The Group publishes the popular tabloids Abante and Abante Tonite. The tabloids have been publishing and posting online stories critical of the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Abante managing editor Fernando Jadulco called the attack “the first violent act against our group and its facilities since 1987.”

The NUJP said it is also believed to be the first attack of its kind on a news outfit in recent history.

Jadulco told NUJP said the attackers stormed the printing plant around 2 a.m. “just as we had finished printing.”

The attackers quickly poured gasoline on the machines and printing supplies and set these on fire.

But the quick response of the Parañaque Fire Station prevented any serious damage to the facility, the NUJP said.

National Capital Region Police Office director Guillermo Eleazar ordered an investigation of the incident, the media group added.

Jadulco said the incident would not disrupt their operations.

“We will continue to publish,” he told the NUJP.

In a separate statement, Jadulco said: “We will not be cowed by this attempt to strike fear into our reporters, editors and staff. Our commitment to hard-hitting journalism remains unshaken.”

There are no reports yet of the identities of the gunmen and the reason behind the attacks as of this posting.

In 2006, during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s State of National Emergency, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police raided Abante’s office but withdrew upon seeing the presence of television crews. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)