Arrest of former Migrante-Australia member slammed

Migrante International condemned the arrest of its former member in Australia Agnes Tadeo-Mesina on trumped-up charges of frustrated murder.

Tadeo-Mesina was arrested last week while in a meeting with ACT Teacher’s Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio in Cagayan Valley. She is currently MAKABAYAN Coordinator for the region. She is also a layworker for the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Cagayan Valley. She is being connected to the killing of Dutch NGO worker Wiillem Geertman.

Tadeo-Mesina lived in Australia in the late 1990s while her husband Allan was finishing his Masters Degree at ANU, Canberra. The couple was both Migrante members while they were there.

“Tadeo-Mesina continued her advocacy work when she returned to the Philippines. Since then, she has been an active community worker and champion of social justice. Her arrest is a clear form of harassment and is obviously part of this administration’s vilification campaign against activists and progressive leaders under Oplan Bayanihan,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

“Is this how the government rewards overseas Filipinos who opt to go back to the country to serve the people? Tadeo-Mesina’s commitment to the poor and oppressed has made her a target of state perpetrators.”

Tadeo-Mesina’s arrest came in the wake of another harassment case against another migrant advocate.

In a news report, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 3rd Infantry Division implicated Migrante Sectoral Partylist Region VI coordinator Cynthia Deduro in a recent military assault on an alleged rebel camp in Tapaz, Capiz on June 18.

According to Division commander Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, two alleged top leaders of the New People’s Army were wounded in the attack by the AFP’s 61st Infantry Battalion at an alleged rebel lair at the vicinity of Barangay Buri, Tapaz as the NPA were allegedly holding a bomb-making training.

In the report, Mabanta said that “among top NPA rebels” supposedly present at the time were Deduro, Concha Araneta, an alias Tonyo/Tonying, an alias Bading and “other still unidentified senior cadres”.

Deduro had since denied the incident and said that on that date she was attending the NEDA Review Consultation on Official Development Assistance at the NEDA-VI Building, Iloilo City, presided by Director Ro-Ann Bacal of NEDA VI, from 9:00pm to 1:00pm. On the afternoon of the same day, from 2:00pm to 5:00 pm, she accompanied a victim of Violence Against Women (VAW) who was seeking assistance from the Molo PNP Station and the Iloilo City DSWD. Later on, together with PO1 Mericar Galido and Social Worker Merlyn Gison, they had a meeting with Brgy. Captain John Villanueva of Brgy. Boulevard, Molo, Iloilo City.

Migrante Sectoral Partylist president Connie Bragas-Regalado said, “This is obviously a desperate and irresponsible attempt of the military to vilify leaders of progressive organizations. We will hold the AFP and the Aquino government accountable should anything untoward happen to Deduro because of this malicious red-tagging.”

Migrante International demanded the dropping of trumped-up charges against Tadeo-Mesina.

“We call on all OFWs and overseas Filipinos to unite in the call to end impunity and to be vigilant against Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan.”