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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)

Public sector workers protest over pay hike

Declaring a “Black Heart’s Day,” public sector workers trooped to Mendiola leading to Malacanang Palace in Manila to denounce Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Budget Sec. Florencio Abad for the Salary Standardization Law 4 (SSL 4) discriminating pay and benefits for the country’s 1.5 million government workers. Similar actions were held in Baguio, Angeles, Naga, Legazpi, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and other cities in the Philippines.