From InterAksyon (Jul 25): VIDEO | Supporters form human shield around COURAGE's Tonet Setias-Dizon
COURAGE's Tonet Setias-Dizon explaining her situation to News5. Photographed by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.
After what cause-oriented groups described as harassment tactics and an apparent stakeout by the state intelligence apparatus, leaders and sympathizers of the public sector labor union COURAGE have managed to move Antonieta Setias-Dizon out of the premises of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) building in Ortigas, Pasig City with throng of supporters joining a motor convoy of more than 10 vehicles.
"I still fear for my life," said Ms. Setias-Dizon, who is a member of the council of advisers and former secretary general of COURAGE.
Ferdinand Gaite, national president of the union Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) told their members and supporters who kept vigil outside IBP that they have had to move out of the premises and proceed to their national headquarters in Quezon City.
On Friday, Gaite expressed thanks to all the people who helped keep up their vigilance for the past 11 days.
After a brief program, the convoy of vans, cars and jeepneys made their way along EDSA and went straight to the Commission on Human Rights office to have a dialogue with new CHR chairman Chito Gascon.
Photo above shows Gascon assuring them that the commission will provide assistance and, even if it doesn't have injunctive rights to subpoena persons, CHR has good working relationship with other government agencies, including the military, on matters of human rights.
He also directed the CHR special protective unit, although small, to help Dizon with her safety concerns, especially pertaining to wherever she prefers to stay in the interest of her personal security and safety.
The convoy then went to the COURAGE office in Quezon City, where Ka Tonet, as she is fondly called by members and colleagues, gave a brief update of what happened during the past 11 days.
Dizon thanked IBP profusely for taking care of her, and her COURAGE supporters for all the support and display of vigilance.
Her sister Rosario Setias-Reyes is the national president of the IBP.
After 11 days, Ka Tonet told the gathering, "the fear is still there. The uncertainty ... the difficulty ... of not being with your family ... the feeling is the same. But, it's just that you have to muster up more strength. You have to keep up the fight, to be able to regain your confidence and your freedom of movement, because that is what they want, for me to stop fighting."
"Until the Senate committee report is out, the law-making process in the Upper House stays at a standstill, she said. "We are grateful that the Lower House has moved ahead of the process at their level and intends to see it through."
House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II said last Sunday that the House is targeting the passage of the Basic Law on third and final reading by the third week of September, alongside the committee hearings on the 2016 national budget which will begin soon after Congress reopens next week.
"After all the hearings and public statements, the only hard basis on which to discern the fate of the draft law is the Senate Committee report. How far from the current House bill would the Senate version go? Would the key structural features be retained? Are we back to square one?" Ferrer asked.
“Still, we continue to hope that we will get over the hump and look forward to more constructive engagements with our legislators in both Houses," Ferrer said. "
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles for her part affirmed that the government’s efforts to push for peace in Mindanao will continue even as the Aquino administration is already on its last year.
“The President remains unwavering in his commitment to bring an end to this internal armed conflict, these four decades of war,” Deles said, noting that the Bangsamoro peace process “has reached the closest that it has ever reached to ending this armed conflict.”
According to Deles, this is also the "closest that the peace process has ever reached to bringing a new arrangement, a new demographic institutional arrangement in Muslim Mindanao, to be able to come as close as possible to that aspiration of self-determination, of self-governance which is recognized by our Constitution.”
“Yan ang ating hinahangad na makamit in this remaining time (That is what we hope the achieve in this remaining time),” Deles added.
“Di pa tapos ang pagtutulak sa kapayapaan (Our efforts to find peace are not over),” Deles declared, adding that “there is so much to do in terms of rebuilding the region that has been so devastated by war. We know that the BBL will not resolve all the problems of violence in the area, but we also know that with the resolution of this problem with the largest, most organized group that has been fighting government, this is a good foundation.... a necessary foundation for being able to resolve all the other problems of violence in the area.”