Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) blamed the Duterte regime for the death of peasant leader Joseph Canlas the morning of May 11, 2021. According to the agri-worker federation, the police may not have gunned him down like it did to other progressive farmers, but they “abducted him without basis, imprisoned him despite his health conditions, let him contract COVID in jail, till he died in the custody of fascists.”
“The Philippine National Police is like a deadly magician,“ said Antonio Flores, chairperson of UMA. “Ka Joseph had neither guns nor COVID-19 when he was arrested. Yet they managed to charge him with illegal possession of firearms, and let him die in their custody with the virus,” he explained further.
In particular, the group held Angeles District Warden Jsupt. Rebecca Manalo-Tiguelo of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology accountable for the death of Canlas, but was careful to declare that the buck did not stop with her. According to UMA, Manalo-Tiguelo could belittle the peasant leader’s plight in prison because the Duterte regime itself belittled the plight of farmers nationwide.
“If the state is capable of withholding land from the peasants who till it, the state is certainly capable of withholding medical attention from political prisoners like Ka Joseph,” accused Flores. “The consciences of anti-peasant bureaucrats like Manalo-Tiguelo and Duterte are as dark as those of the landgrabbers Ka Joseph had struggled against,” he continued.
The fascists may have ended the life of a staunch peasant leader, but, according to UMA, they are far from ending the peasant movement itself. Their statement ended with a vow to “cultivate the seed of anger planted in the people by the fascists, and grow their revenge on the land the peasantry is bound to seize with [their] callused hands.” #