[KMP national vice-chairperson arrested in Pampanga] Farmers condemn Holy Week Central Luzon raids, arrest of progressive leaders

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemns the simultaneous operations targeting regional leaders of farmers’ organizations in Central Luzon. 

At around 6:30 AM this morning, PNP-CIDG officers stormed the office of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) in Sapang Maisac, Mexico, Pampanga. The authorities reportedly served a warrant against AMGL leader and KMP Vice Chairperson Joseph “JC” Canlas. He was nabbed in a nearby peasant community at around 8:30 AM. Canlas, a long-time peasant leader in Central Luzon, is also the Vice President for Luzon of Anakpawis Partylist. He leads numerous campaigns and struggles for the welfare of farmers in the region. Last year, Canlas actively criticized the Department of Agriculture’s fertilizer fund scam amid the pandemic. He also actively campaigned for higher palay prices.

Around the same time, today, BAYAN-Central Luzon and Workers Alliance of Region III (WAR-3) leader Pol Viuya was arrested in a private residence in Bamban, Tarlac. Viuya was reportedly brought to Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Canlas and Viuya were persistently red-tagged and vilified by the NTF-ELCAC in tarpaulins and posters branding them as recruiters of the New People’s Army (NPA). 

“The Duterte regime knows nothing but to repress the people. Farmers have been demanding aid and production subsidy as the pandemic and economic crisis rages, yet it has repeatedly attacked legitimate peasant leaders and organizations. Si Duterte mismo ang kalbaryo sa magbubukid!” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.

The simultaneous raids and arrests in Central Luzon today came weeks after the Bloody Sunday raids in Southern Luzon provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal that killed 9 individuals. 

The arrests also came after vigorous and orchestrated red-tagging activities coinciding with the anniversary of the NPA yesterday. 

According to Ramos, the authorities are taking advantage of the strict lockdown and ECQ measures to carry out attacks against activists and people’s organizations. #

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