State agents repeatedly harass former Pamalakaya general secretary

This article is available in Pilipino

Pamalakaya condemned state agents today, June 11, for harassing Ka Romy Antazo, retired fisherfolk and the group’s former secretary general. Antazo, 80 years old, was at the forefront of the fisherfolk’s campaign for the conservation of Laguna de Bay against destructive state projects.

“[He] has been repeatedly approached by state agents and offered…livelihood…in exchange for his “cooperation,” the group said. By ‘cooperation’, the group assumes that the state is seeking Antazo’s “surrender” to present him as a “rebel returnee” despite being a civilian, and thus, has nothing to do with the armed movement. Once he agrees to the plot, the state would use him to red-tag progressive organizations. Ka Romy repeatedly rejected these offers.

Incidents of harassment documented by Pamalakaya include being approached by a certain “Dexter” pretending to be a former “rebel” in 2022 and a series of phone calls in 2023. Ka Romy repeatedly refused the livelihood offers and insisted that he will not “surrender” because his fight for the welfare and rights of small fishers is legitimate. The state agents kept harassing him and in April, they “visited” him again at his residence in Brgy. Ticulio, Cardona, Rizal.

In May, four men who identified themselves as police took him from his house and brought him to the municipal hall to again “offer” him a living. For the fourth time, Antazo rejected the offer. He was later released but only after he was photographed in front of a table with a rifle on top, together with some police personnel. Antazo feared that these photos will be used to present him as a “rebel returnee” similar to many cases of forced surrender of civilians.

“We are extremely alarmed over these incidents, as these could subject Antazo to further and worse kinds of attacks because of his firm stand against the authorities’ demands,” Pamalakaya said. The group is aware that this is part of the Marcos regime’s counter-insurgency campaign, which flagrantly violates the rights to free expression and association.

AB: State agents repeatedly harass former Pamalakaya general secretary