Group calls for release of detained peasant leader rushed to hospital

Published May 9, 2021, 1:33 PM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has appealed for the release of detained peasant leader Joseph Canlas who was rushed to a hospital on Saturday night, May 8, after experiencing difficulty in breathing.

Photo courtesy of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

In a statement issued Sunday, May 9, the peasant group has demanded the release of Canlas on humanitarian grounds in order for him to receive full medical attention.

“This is an urgent matter of life and death and justice. The congested jail conditions will only worsen Canlas’ health,” said KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos. “The PNP-CIDG and the BJMP will be liable for any untoward incident that may befall Canlas while under detention.”

The KMP said the “extreme stress of his unjust detention and cramped jail conditions” resulted to the deterioration of the peasant leader’s health, who has hypertension and diabetes.

The group was told by the peasant leader’s family that 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, 59, was arrested by members of the Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) last March 30 in Mexico, Pampanga, over charges of illegal possession of firearms. He was then detained in Angeles City, Pampanga.

“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,” Ramos said.

“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,” he added.

The KMP said Canlas was transferred to an Intensive Care Unit on Sunday morning, May 9, while awaiting the results of his COVID test.