Union organizer gets unwelcome visitors – NTF-ELCAC agents – at home

Nov. 15, 2023
Paul John “PJ” Dizon, secretary general of Kilusang Mayo Uno – Southern Mindanao Region, during a protest in Davao City. (Kath Cortez/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A union organizer in Davao City was harassed by alleged government anti-communist agents in his residence last Monday afternoon, Kilusang Mayo Uno reports.

The report said that Paul John Dizon, secretary general of KMU Southern Mindanao chapter, was approached in his home by persons who identified themselves as members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“The said elements intimidated PJ and convinced him to “surrender” to government authorities in order to “clear” his name. They also said that criminal charges would be lodged against PJ if he continued to disregard their calls and warnings,” the report posted on KMU Southern Mindanao’s social media account said.

Dizon has been repeatedly harassed by military agents for over five years, starting when he was chair of Namasufa, the union of plantation workers of Sumifru in Davao de Oro. He has been vilified in red-tagging campaigns online and in posters spread in the city by an anonymous group.

The national office of KMU condemns the harassment, saying the attacks on unions and workers continue despite the recommendations made by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in its High-Level Tripartite Meeting last January calling on the government to stop red-tagging of workers and unions and ensure the rights of workers.

The tripartite meeting reminds the Philippine government that “free thought and expression in defense of workers’ occupational interests also forms the basis of those civil liberties necessary for democracy, human rights, social justice, and economic progress.”

KMU said the government has ignored the international labor’s recommendations, as their vice-chair for the Visayas islands, Jaime Paglinawan, was slapped with trumped-up charges also this week. 

Walang nagiging pagbabago at lalo pang tumitining ang pambabalasubas ng gobyerno at mga armadong pwersa nito sa kalayaan sa pag-uunyon at pag-oorganisa,” KMU said in a statement. (Nothing has changed, yet the deception by the government and its armed forces have intensified against the freedom to organize and form unions.)

The NTF-ELCAC was established by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 through Executive Order 70.

The task force has been criticized, especially after two student activists in Luzon revealed last September that its agents abducted them in Bataan and were forced to follow a narrative that they were New People’s Army members that are surrendering to the government.

The agency’s former spokespersons were found guilty by the government’s Ombudsman last September for “conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the public” in a case filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

Congress has cut down the task force’s budget for lack of transparency with its funds. (davaotoday.com)

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