Farmers’ appeal: release Joseph Canlas to allow him full medical attention

Detained Central Luzon peasant leader now in ICU

Detained Central Luzon peasant leader Joseph Canlas was rushed to a hospital in Angeles City Saturday evening after experiencing difficulty in breathing. He was transferred to an Intensive Care Unit Sunday morning while awaiting the results of his COVID test.

The extreme stress of his unjust detention and cramped jail conditions led to the deterioration of Canlas’ health. He has hypertension and diabetes, both comorbidities of COVID-19.

Canlas, 59, KMP vice-chairperson and leader of Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon, was illegally arrested last March 30 by the PNP-CIDG in Pampanga on what appear to be questionable grounds using a defective search warrant. He is facing trumped-up charges and remains incarcerated at the BJMP Detention Center in Angeles City in Pampanga.

KMP demands the immediate release of Canlas on humanitarian grounds to give him full medical attention. “This is an urgent matter of life and death and justice. The congested jail conditions will only worsen Canlas’ health. The PNP-CIDG and the BJMP will be liable for any untoward incident that may befall Canlas while under detention,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

According to his family, Canlas experienced breathing difficulties and stuttering speech on Saturday afternoon. They pleaded to jail authorities to bring him to a hospital for immediate medical attention.

“Canlas do not even deserve a day in jail. The evidence and charges against him are all fabricated. Canlas is a determined leader of the Filipino farmers’ struggle against land grabbing. His illegal arrest and detention undermine not only his civil and political rights. It is also a blow to the assertion of the collective rights of Filipino farmers to land,” Ramos said.

As of March 22, there were 3,500 COVID cases in BJMP facilities nationwide. KMP said government prisons and detention facilities direly lack medical personnel and medicines and other essential needs like clean water, adequate food, and sanitation.

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