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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)

BAYAN to Pnoy: Hands Off Activists and Human Rights Defenders

Press Statement
July 18, 2015

The increased and widespread harassment and intimidation of government critics and oppositionists in the run-up to Pres. Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) later this month is a dangerous sign that the Aquino government is adopting the tactics of notorious human rights violator Jovito Palparan – with the blessings of the Arroyo administration – in trying to quell anti-government protests.

Within the past three weeks, BAYAN has received alarming reports of soldiers, police and other state agents hounding union leaders and community organizers, human rights defenders and social activists, as well as progressive professionals, in their homes, workplaces and even in public, such as restaurants and on the street. They tell their targets that their activities are being monitored or that they are already identified as members of the CPP/NPA. They make veiled threats of something bad happening if their targets do not stop their social involvements. Invariably, these state agents leave a name and number to contact if and when their targets are ready to “cooperate”.

The victims of this latest spate of harassment and intimidation come from as far south as General Santos City to as far north as Cagayan Valley. Particularly targeted are activists and leaders in BAYAN-affiliated public sector unions, trade unions, youth and student groups, health workers and professionals, urban poor communities and progressive party list groups.

Even church workers and human rights defenders are not spared, like 15 colleagues in SocSarGen and Davao who were recently slapped with trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for helping Ata Manobo and Balaan communities flee their militarized areas.

Clearly the objective of this intense harassment from state agents is to intimidate their victims into silence and inaction at a time when Aquino is salvaging whatever is left of his supposed “tuwid-na-daan” legacy, desperately looking for people to drag on his bumpy, crooked path to nowhere.

This is exactly the same kind of vilification and harassment tactics that then Gen. Palparan utilized wherever he was assigned, along with a spike in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of people suspected to be CPP/NPA leaders, members and even just sympathizers.

Pres. Aquino and his military and police forces are so desperate to silence his critics and derail the nationwide SONA protests that they have decided to do a Palparan.

Worse, the recent appointment of generals in the Palparan mold, with bloody human rights track records to their name, to head the AFP and the Philippine Army bodes a renewed spate of illegal arrests, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

BAYAN and the Filipino people will not be cowed by this latest fascist rampage under the counterinsurgency program, OPLAN Bayanihan of the Aquino regime. The upcoming SONA protests will be the biggest and most damning ever. We shall continue speaking out against the evils of the current regime presiding over a rotten, dying system and empower our people to struggle for a new and better government and society.###