“This is the handiwork of the Duterte regime using the same Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the paramilitary goons to terrorize and intimidate legitimate activists and unionists.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The national president of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) Ferdinand Gaite decried harassment by a suspected state agent who went to his residence on Jan. 19.
According to COURAGE, a man went to Gaite’s house at 11:00 a.m. and introduced himself as Danny, from the Department of National Defense (DND).
Gaite was not at his house at that time, the man talked to his house help instead. The man asked personal information about Gaite such as the names of his children, the owner of his house, how he treats his house help, his job, among others.
The man was described to be about 5’9, has dark complexion and weighs about 150-160 pounds.
The group said the man went to his neighbors also asking the same questions in the guise of conducting a credit investigation for Gaite’s supposed bank loan. The man left the village after an hour.
Gaite went to the village security guard upon learning about the incident. He found out that a certain David S. Jacson (whom they said fits the name of Danny) asked permission to visit Gaite at his house. The man’s entry and exit from the village was recorded in a CCTV. He was riding a motorcycle with plate number NC 5392.
Gaite said he has no pending loan application and does not know Danny or David S. Jacson.
“This is the handiwork of the Duterte regime using the same Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the paramilitary goons to terrorize and intimidate legitimate activists and unionists,” Gaite said in a statement.
In a statement, COURAGE vice president and National Federation of Employees’ Associations in the Departments and Agencies in Agriculture (Nafeda) president Santiago Dasmariñas slammed President Duterte for continuing a counterinsurgency program patterned after the United States counterinsurgency guide of 2009.
He said this has resulted to various human rights abuses against the people, including union leaders and government employees. He said Duterte is not different from then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and President Benigno Aquino who also used the same tactics against activists. Dasmariñas was also a victim of harassment under Aquino.
“From the ranks of government workers at least six employees were killed, three detained on false charges and scores of others harassed by the military and the police in their offices and homes,” Dasmariñas said.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said surveillance and attacks against human rights defenders under the Duterte administration are “reprehensible and downright illegal.”
Almost all of victims of extrajudicial killings and arrests recorded by Karapatan experienced such forms of harassment and surveillance before they were killed or illegally arrested. Such attacks against rights defenders should stop,” said Palabay.
Manny Bagclagon, president of the Department of Social Welfare and Development -Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines called the surveillance of Gaite as “desperate measures.” He said instead of harassing their members and officers, Duterte should fulfill his promises to end contractualization, increase the salaries of all government employees and uphold the right to unionize.
The group vowed to mobilize and continue their struggle for salaries, jobs and rights.