By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
March 18, 2008
VETERAN street parliamentarian Fr. Jose “Joe” Dizon, who is an active leader of protest actions against President Arroyo, last week received South Korea’s most prestigious human rights award in ceremonies held in Seoul.
Dizon received the Tji Hak-Soon Justice and Peace Award on behalf of the Workers Assistance Center (WAC) which he serves as executive director and which he co-founded in 1994. WAC became the first Philippine recipient of the citation, which is the only international and publicly-funded human rights award in South Korea.
The award “commemorates the life, works and beliefs of the late Bishop Daniel Tji Hak-soon” who is referred to by South Koreans as “an icon of the anti-dictatorship movement.”
“We were very impressed by your organization that has been continuously fighting for the rights and welfare of [day] laborers, no matter what hardships your organization has undergone,” Tji Hak Soon Foundation chair Msgr. Kim Byung-San said in a letter to the WAC.
Kwangju Archbishop Yoon Konghee chaired the jury that chose WAC.
Dizon has been a mainstay of street protests since the Marcos dictatorship which jailed him only to release him after uproar from the global community. As spokesperson of the church-based group Solidarity Philippines, he hosted interfaith prayers in three recent anti-Arroyo rallies.
The WAC has assisted about 10,000 workers “who mostly complained of illegal dismissal, delayed salaries, forced overtime, non-provision of their benefits, and non-remittance of their Social Security System contributions.”
Several of its members and leaders have been killed since 2001, including Gerry Cristobal who was shot last March 10 in Imus, Cavite. WAC members Cris Abad and Jesus Servida were killed in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Former Philippine Independent Church Supreme Bishop Alberto Ramento was WAC chair when he was assassinated in 2006.