Posts

Employees and senators fight back vs. NICA, Badoy

The Senate employees union and several Senators condemned National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) director general Alex Paul Monteagudo and communication secretary Lorraine Badoy’s latest anti-communist witch-hunt.

The Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO) said Monteagudo’s allegation it exists as the eyes and ears of Communist groups in the Senate was malicious, baseless and dangerous that endangers the lives of its leaders.

“We are apprehensive that our leaders will now be the subject of vilification, harassment, arrest as they did to other union leaders affiliated with COURAGE (Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees) and, worse, killing which is happening now against unionists,” SENADO said.

The group said it believes it is being attacked for condemning earlier red-tagging activities by government agencies against legitimate public sector unions.

SENADO demanded that Monteagudo take down his post and apologize to all Senate official and employees “for his disrespect and profanity directed to the institution that is the stalwart of democracy and human rights.”

NICA chief Alex Monteagudo’s Facebook page that earned condemnation from Senators and government employees.

In a Facebook post, Monteagudo alleged that the Senate union serves as the eyes and ears of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines to hijack government projects and plans.

Communications secretary Lorraine Badoy also red-tagged the union in a column published by the Philippine News Agency.

Senators have come to the defense of the union.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he should know if the union is hijacking the government from within.

“[Monteagudo]) must have been misinformed. I would be the first to sense of such if ever. I’ve been there (in the Senate) since 1992,” Sotto said. 

He lauded SENADO for having led the passage of three Collective Negotiating Agreements for Senate employees’ rights and benefits.

Four opposition senators also condemned Monteagudo and Badoy’s allegations as “dangerous.”

“These are not just baseless attacks and vilification against the employees but against the institution of the Senate they represent,” minority bloc senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima said in a statement.

The four senators pressed for the passage of Senate Bill 2121, or the proposed “Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging”.  

COURAGE meanwhile said its ranks will not back down under such repeated attacks and vowed to work harder for wage increases, job security, union rights and democratic and nationalist governance. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Right to water activist arrested, accused with illegal gun possession

The wave of search warrants served in the dead of night that lead to charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives victimized another activist, this time a government employee based in San Pablo City, Laguna.

Ramir Endriga Corcolon, an officer of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and an employee of a local water utility, was arrested by the police at 4:30 AM this morning.

Corcolon, a campaigner against the privatization of water services, is a COURAGE national council member and secretary general of the Water System Employees Response (WATER).

The federation of government employees unions said in an alert that Corcolon’s house was raided and searched by Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) operatives.

Corcolon was taken to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang town at 8:30 AM.

Corcolon in a police detention cell. (COURAGE photo)

A search warrant alleging the activist possessed a rifle grenade was issued last February 23 by Sta. Cruz, Laguna Executive Judge Divinagracia Bustos-Ongkeko.

The search warrant used to raid Corcolon’s house. (COURAGE photo)

Pictures posted by COURAGE on its Facebook page show that a handgun and ammunitions were also allegedly found in Corcolon’s house.

Guns and ammunition the police allege were found in Corcolon’s house. (COURAGE photo)

Dozens of activists had been issued similar warrants and charged with violation of Republic Act 9516, the anti-illegal possession of firearms and explosives law, in a sustained crackdown against Leftist critics of the Rodrigo Duterte government.

COURAGE demanded the immediate release of Corcolon and condemned what it calls the terror-tagging of activists.

“Corcolon is an employee that vehemently opposes the privatization of water districts. He also stands for the advancement of the rights of employees and the people,” COURAGE said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Evil and crooked’: Councilor, employees unions condemn dismissal of 60 Bacolod employees

A Bacolod Councilor opposed the termination of 60 employees of the city’s water district, saying the move is a grave abuse of authority by the directors of the local water utility.

In a privileged speech Friday, January 8, Councilor Wilson Gamboa said the Board of Directors of the Bacolod City Water District (BACIWA) unjustly and illegally terminated the workers in collaboration with the private water utility company PrimeWater Infrastruture, Inc.

The local legislator was reacting to the Board’s decision to terminate the workers effective December 31 by declaring their positions “redundant” after the public water utility signed a controversial Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with PrimeWater.

PrimeWater is owned by the family of Senator Cynthia Villar.

Gamboa said the firing of the employees hammered the final nail of a total “takeover” of BACIWA by PrimeWater.

“These members of the BACIWA Board of Directors believed that they are the absolute authority by issuing arbitrary, capricious, and illegal resolutions and orders which completely gave PrimeWater total supervision and control over its management, operations, collections, and the trampling of employees’ rights. Now, they have evolved as the henchmen of PrimeWater,” Gamboa fumed.

Gamboa said the BACIWA Board could not declare the workers’ positions as redundant when PrimeWater would hire private employees as replacement, including the fired employees who would be “reabsorbed” should they take Option 2 of the proffered retirement package.

The legislator also said the “evil and crooked” BACIWA directors failed to conduct proper consultation with the affected employees.

“[The workers’] rights and tenure must be protected against an unjust, inhuman, and illegal order of the Board of Directors of BACIWA who acted as the corporate carpetbaggers and collaborators of PrimeWater,” Gamboa said.

First dismissed government employees of 2021

Employees union president Leny Espina, who was among those dismissed, said the affected workers were barred from entering the BACIWA premises since Monday, January 4.

Espina said the union will continue to stage actions in front of the BACIWA office every day along with other Bacolod City supporters in protest of their dismissal and the takeover of the public water utility.

The Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and the Water System Employees Response (WATER) also launched a nationwide campaign to have the dismissed employees reinstated.

COURAGE National President Santiago Dasmariñas, Jr. said the dismissal violated the constitutional and legal rights of government employees to security of tenure.

He added that the dismissal was also meant to quell legitimate protests against the privatization of local water services.

“We ask the Duterte government to stop privatization of local water services and put laid off public sector workers back to work!” Dasmariñas said.

Ramir Corcolon, WATER secretary general, asked the government to put the welfare of people above business interests.

“Experience has shown that privatization of water only led to more expensive but still poor, or even poorer, water services. Greed should not reign over the right of the public to affordable and quality water services,” Corcolon said.

Water district unions and national agency employees unions all over the country also posted photos of solidarity activities in support of the BACIWA workers Thursday. #(Raymund B. Villanueva)

Government employees oppose ‘mass layoff circular’ amid pandemic

By Joseph Cuevas

Government employees raised alarms over a new budget circular instructing agencies to realign their budget for Covid-19 programs, saying the new measure is anti-labor and anti-poor.  

In an online press conference Tuesday, June 9, the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) said Department of Budget and Management (DBM) National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 580 would only result in mass layoffs and budget cuts to programs and services for the people.

The new DBM measure, dubbed the Adoption of Economy Measures in Government Due to the Emergency Health Situation, was issued last April 12.

It derives legal basis from Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan Act of 2020 that gave emergency powers to President Duterte to raise and realign  funds for government’s efforts against Covid-19.

Section 4.3 of the circular orders the discontinuance of hiring of job orders except those considered as frontliners during the ongoing state of public health emergency, COURAGE said.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) initially released a memorandum effecting the circular but, after a dialogue with union members, issued an addendum assuring that no workers would be affected.

COURAGE also said government agencies are realigning or have already realigned their work and financial plans to comply with the circular, sacrificing many social service programs and poverty alleviation plans.

Among such programs may include the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (KALAHI) and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), COURAGE revealed.

COURAGE national president Santiago Dasmariñas Jr. said as many as 600,000 government employees all over the country, especially job-order and contractual employees, are worried.

Dasmariñas said COURAGE wrote DBM Secretary Wendel Angel Avisado last April 29 to express opposition to the circular, particularly DBM’s plans to reduce or remove funds for government employees’ wages.

“The COS, JO workers, and the like, need their wages now, more than ever, in this time of pandemic caused by the COVID-19. And it will be an injustice if the budget intended for their wages shall be SLASHED and cut which will result to their eventual termination from work,” COURAGE’s letter states. #

Groups hold noise barrage calling for mass virus testing

by Sanafe Marcelo

Various organizations held noise barrages in several communities around Metro Manila Thursday, March 26, demanding free mass testing for health workers and patients with corona virus disease (COVID-19) symptoms.

Ilang residente ng Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City

In Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City, Gabriela Women’s Party member Tess Arboleda said their noise barrage inside their homes and through social media are in support of calls for mass testing of so-called frontliners in the fight against the pandemic.

The activity also demanded food and financial assistance to poor families and workers who could no longer work because of the government-imposed lockdown.

Arboleda added that the poor are already worried because their resources and savings are fast running out two weeks into the island-wide lockdown.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines also participated in the noise barrage and in the “Tiktok” online dance challenge to call for more government support.

The teachers also called for “emergency assistance, not emergency power.”

Congress has passed bills granting President Rodrigo Duterte so-called emergency powers to realign funds to address the pandemic, among other special powers.

Members of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Bayan Muna, and Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) also participated in the noise barrage. #

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)

Pagtatakip ng gubyerno sa paglabag ng karapatang pantao, kinondena

Sa pagharap ng ilang representante ng gubyerno, militar at pulis sa isinasagawang public inquiry ng Commission on Human Rights (CHR), nagdaos ng kilos protesta ang mga human rights advocates sa pangunguna ng KARAPATAN National upang pabulaanan ang pagtatakip ng pamahalaan sa maraming paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa bansa. (Arrem Alcaraz/Kodao)

Commission on Human Rights, Quezon City

September 12, 2019

Groups protest water rate hike

Members of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and Water System Employees Response (WATER) staged a picket protest outside the office of Metro-Manila Sewerage System (MWSS) in Balara, Quezon City to denounce the latest water rate hike by Maynilad and Manila Water Thursday, October 4.

According to Ferdinand Gaite, National President of COURAGE, Maynilad will increase its rates by approximately P5.73 per cubic meter while Manila Water will impose a P6.22-P6.55 per cubic meter hike in the next five years.

Customers of Manila Water (East zone concessionaire) will pay an additional P1.46 per cubic meter starting October 16 while Maynilad (West zone concessionaire) started a P0.90 per cubic meter increase last October 1.

Gaite also blames the rampant high prices of goods and services because of TRAIN Law (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) that added burdens to the water customers.

Meanwhile Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate will file a resolution seeking the lower house to fast track the probe to stop water hike by legislating and forwarding measures to protect consumers.

He cited the anomalies happen in 2012 where giant water firms collected in advance for future projects.

This included the P45 billion Laiban project and P5.4 billion Angat Dam Irrigation project.

Both projects were cancelled in 2010 but P6 billion worth of collections were already made in 2012. # (Video by Dave Galman / Report by Joseph Cuevas)

Former COURAGE organizers abducted in Bulacan Saturday

A human rights lawyer said the couple reported arrested by the Philippine National Police in Balagtas, Bulacan last Saturday were actually abducted and slapped with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives.

Atty. Kristina Conti said that Rowena and Oliver Rosales were simple former officials and organizers of the Confederation for the Unite, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and were not members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Absolute rubbish to call them NPA members. They are civilians, activists if you may, working in the cities and suburbs for change. Whatever charges alleging violence on their part will fail, as they already have against others,” Conti said on her Facebook account.

“Abductions like this are followed by trumped up charges. We’ve seen this many times before. Stop the ludicrous charges!” she added.

According to Conti, the Rosales couple were on their way home on board a tricycle from selling their wares at the Balagtas Public Market when abducted by five men who did not identify themselves as police and military personnel.

The couple were reportedly blindfolded and handcuffed before being dragged to a car.

It was only when they were taken to Camp Crame in Quezon City that the victims were informed of a warrant of arrest against them.

Their family only learned the couple was taken to Camp Crame when they inquired with the Balagtas Police that informed them it was the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group that were looking for the couple.

The couple were taken to Bulacan Monday morning to face inquest proceedings, Conti told Kodao.

Conti said that couple are being charged with illegal possession of explosives.

“There was instant picture-taking of explosives yesterday [at Camp Crame],” Conti said.

Rowena is also charged with arson in Agusan, the lawyer added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)