By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Kodao Productions / Bulatlat.com
MANILA — 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 the arrest of Antonietta Setias Dizon “is illegal and is a direct attack on the essence of public sector unionism.”
Dizon was arrested by the San Pedro Police at her home in San Pedro, Laguna at 3 a.m., Sept. 18 on the basis of a warrant of arrest for murder issued by Branch 7 of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court, Agusan del Sur.
“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 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 petitioned 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.