Philippines Report

KMP-Family of detained activist Canlas barred from visiting

KMP says family of detained activist Canlas barred from visiting him

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Tuesday that police have been barring the family of detained peasant leader Joseph Canlas from visiting him.

Citing a statement from Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon leader Lito Lumapaz, the group said Canlas’ wife and children have not seen or talked to him for five days.

olice arrested KMP vice chairperson Joseph Canlas on March 30 in Barangay Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac.

RT-PCR swab test required, submitted

KMP said the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 3 required a COVID-19 negative swab test result for visiting family members of Canlas, which they complied with.

But even after showing the negative results on Sunday, they were still barred entry to Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga where Canlas is detained.

“Now, authorities are saying that Joseph Canlas will have to undergo a swab test before he is allowed any visitors,” KMP said.

The group noted that the farmer leader was supposedly brought to the Jose B. Lingad Regional Hospital for a swab test and medical check-up before he was transferred to Camp Olivas.

“These are all alibis to have Canlas incommunicado or deprived of communication from his family and counsel,” KMP also said.

The group said the PNP-CIDG is only allowing the family to drop off food, face masks, medicine and other needs at the camp gate. His family has raised concerns about his situation while in detention, it added.

Arrest of activists

KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos added: “Canlas is not even a convict. He was falsely accused. The charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against him were fabricated and meant to stifle his political activities as a regional peasant leader in Central Luzon.”

Rights groups and lawyers have noted that illegal possession of firearms and explosives are the usual charges filed against activists.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said Canlas’ arrest is a “big blow” to environmental defense efforts in the region, noting that the peasant leader helped farmers and indigenous Aeta communities in campaigns in Mount Abo and was involved in struggles against other destructive land grabs that put at stake at least 75,500 hectares of indigenous lands in Central Luzon.

Canlas’ arrest came weeks after the bloody Calabarzon raids where nine activists were killed and six were arrested. Labor leader Dandy Miguel was also killed on March 28.

On the day of his arrest, police also nabbed Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson for Central Luzon Florence Viuya. Police also raided the house of labor activist Marites Santos David in Laguna. 

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