HomeNewsFishers raise alarm over harassment of elderly leader

Fishers raise alarm over harassment of elderly leader

A fisherfolk group is alarmed over the persistent harassment of their elderly leader.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said their 80-year-old leader, Romy Antazo, has been repeatedly approached by suspected state agents and was offered livelihood support in exchange for his supposed “cooperation.”

Antazo is a former secretary general of Pamalakaya and fishes in Laguna de Bay for a living.

Pamalakaya has documented the repeated incidents of harassment against Antazo since 2022.

Based on the list of incidents, Antazo has been approached by several ‘former rebels,’ and has been consistently receiving phone calls from authorities who tried to persuade him to join the same livelihood support.

Last April, a maritime police official based in Binangonan, Rizal paid Antazo a visit in Brgy. Ticulio, Cardona, Rizal. According to the report, the police official and three others asked Antazo to ‘testify’ before them, of which he refused.

Four more men in plain clothes who identified themselves as police officers visited his home last month. They took Antazo to their municipal station despite not showing any warrant. He was once again offered livelihood support in the form of a monthly allowance in exchange for his “cooperation.”

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When Antazo refused the offer, Pamalakaya said the police officers took photos of him with a rifle by a table before he was sent home. He is now worried that the photo may be used to present him as a rebel returnee.

“We are highly alarmed over these incidents, as these could subject Antazo further to worse kinds of attacks because of his firm stand against the authorities’ demands,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap in a statement.

Human rights group Karapatan has documented 552 cases of forced surrenders from July 2022 to December 2023 alone.

“We call on the advocates of human rights to denounce this government’s scheme that puts our leaders and members at risk of exploitation and injustice,” he added. 

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