To DONATE to Joseph’s Medical & Legal Assistance [ CLICK HERE ]
[ UPDATE 05/08/21 ] Peasant Leader Joseph Canlas, Vice Chair of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Peasant Movement of the Philippines, was rushed to Ospital Ning Angeles this evening for a stroke.
Joseph, 59 years old, is already in a frail health condition with difficulty breathing, slurred speech, and difficult eating that he must be fed by fellow inmates. He is also being denied family visits and proper medical care at Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga.
[ Statement ]
This is an urgent call to action for humanitarians, activists, and abolitionists all over the world to stand in solidarity with Filipino Peasants and Workers this April 24th, the Global Day of Solidarity with Filipino Workers and Peasants.
On March 30th, the Philippine National Police and Crime Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) illegally arrested peasant leader Joseph Canlas of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), and Anakpawis Partylist; and labor leader Pol Viuya of the Workers Alliance in Region 3 and New Patriotic Alliance (Bayan) Central Luzon. They now join a group of 656 activists currently held by the state as political prisoners. The vast majority of them are farmers and land defenders. Many have been in prison for more than a decade.
Before their arrests, Ka JC and Ka Pol were targets of deliberate, malicious red-tagging campaigns all across Central Luzon, meant to paint them as dangerous, armed communist rebels.
Ka JC led numerous campaigns and struggles against the conversion of farms and agricultural lands as Central Luzon transforms from the country’s “rice granary” into the land conversion hotspot for the Duterte government’s “Build! Build! Build!” program. JC and AMGL are strongly campaigning against the displacement of farmers and indigenous people as a consequence of projects such as the Clark Green City, Bulacan Aerotropolis, Pampanga Megalopolis, and Balog-Balog Mega Dam project, among others. He also joined protests against the Anti-Terrorism Law. In a February mobilization outside the Supreme Court, Canlas was seen holding a placard with the sign “Magsakaka kami, hindi terorista” (We are farmers, not terrorists).
Ka Pol became a labor leader under the Philippine Communication Workers when he was still a worker for the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). He was a key figure in the formation of the labor force of the Philippine Rabbit and the Cindys in Tarlac. He was among the victims who became the target of repression of activists, labor leaders, organizers under several regimes especially when the butcher general Jovito Palparan attacked Central Luzon. In 2012 Pol Viuya became chairman of the New Patriotic Alliance of Tarlac (Bayan Tarlac). He also founded the Kilusang Nagtatanggol sa Inang Kalikasan or Movement in Defense of Mother Nature or KNIK, as an alliance of the Aeta Tribal Association (ATA) and the Alliance of the Peasants of Tarlac (AMT). The plan to build the New Clark City, formerly known as Clark Green City, was underway during this time. Ka Pol is at the forefront of the battle of the indigenous Aytas of Tarlac in defending the ancestral land against the military reservations, the national greening program, the Balog-balog dam, the Balikatan military exercises in Sta Juliana, and the Clark green city. He was also involved in the campaigns against the land use conversions in the region, including the expansion of the Luisita Industrial Plant Corporation or LIPCO.
Ka JC and Ka Pol are tireless activists who have served exploited and oppressed peasant and worker communities across the Philippines for decades. Their fight for land rights, workplace protections, and livelihood—especially during the pandemic—has been branded as a crime by the Duterte government. The real criminal, however, is the Duterte regime, which since 2016 has killed 323 farmers and over 50 trade unionists. The Philippines remains the most dangerous country in the world for farmers and land activists.
The killings and arrests of activists, human rights defenders, and political dissenters by the Philippine government must end. We call on all our fellow land reform advocates, human rights advocates, communities, and institutions to join us in calling for the Philippine government to stop these outrageous and unjust killings and arrests.
Join BAYAN USA, A Growing Culture, and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas today in taking action:
- SIGN the petition for the immediate release of Ka JC and Ka Pol: https://www.change.org/Free-JosephCanlas-PolViuya
- DONATE to the Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) to defend farmer and land defender rights, to cover the legal fees of those falsely imprisoned by the government, to support the families of those killed, to continue the fight for land and justice: https://gogetfunding.com/defendfarmers/
- ENDORSE the Philippine Human Rights Act to end U.S. military aid to the Philippine military & police responsible for harassing and detaining JC, Pol, and hundreds of other political prisoners in the Philippines: https://humanrightsph.org/take-action
- RELEASE statements of support for those arrested and to stand with us in solidarity against state-sanctioned brutality.