The International Coalition of Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP Canada) condoles with the family, friends and the peasant movement in the Philippines for the loss of another courageous leader Joseph Canlas, 59. He was the Vice Chair of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP – Peasants’ Movement of the Philippines) and chair of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL).
Canlas had been held at the Angeles City jail, which is under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), since April 15. He was arrested on March 30 in Central Luzon in the course of the police and military operations using search warrants issued against activists. Canlas asserted that the guns, ammunitions and explosives and other so called evidence seized during the raids were planted against him.
The peasant leader has died on Tuesday, May 11, of COVID-19, which he contracted while detained at the Angeles City jail. The police may not have gunned him down like it did to other rights defenders but the BJMP knows he had hypertension and diabetes which makes him more vulnerable to Covid infection. He was brought to the hospital only when it was too late.
We call for the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the local and regional courts to decongest jail facilities by letting sick and elderly political prisoners be free on just and humanitarian grounds.
We call on the Duterte administration to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) which leads inter-agency actions with impunity, including but not limited to extrajudicial killings, massacres, enforced disappearances, simultaneous raids and arrests, filling of trumped-up charges and red-tagging. It has billions of public funds, which could very well be allocated to COVID 19 testing, vaccinations and food assistance to families affected by the pandemic.
Campaign Committee for
Free All Political Prisoners in the Philippines, ICHRP Canada