On the death of Joseph Canlas: Focus on health solution not repression – CPDG to PH Gov’t

May 11, 2021

Photo from Nadja de Vera

The Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) strongly calls out the Philippine government and hold it accountable for the death of Joseph “JC” Canlas. 

“The government’s continuing attacks against activists and development workers even amid the COVID-19 pandemic is condemnable. We believe that the government should be held accountable because in the midst of a pandemic, it focuses its resources and powers to trump-up cases and incarcerate activists and development workers”, says Liza Maza, CPDG Spokesperson.

Canlas was illegally arrested last March 30, 2021 on trumped up-charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. A year away into his senior year, 59 years old Ka Joseph “JC” Canlas who was Vice Chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Chairperson of Alyansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) passed away 7:00AM today May 11, 2021 because of COVID-19 complications which his family and colleagues believe he contracted from his unjust incarceration at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Camp Tomas Pepito, Angeles City in Pampanga province.

Prior to his illegal arrest, Ka JC was already suffering from arthritis and joint pains. He also has diabetes and hypertension. His daughter Jenelle Canlas stated that it took 5 hours before he was provided a room on the day that he was taken to the hospital.

“Planting of evidences and filing of trumped-up cases to incriminate activists and progressives needs to stop. Activism, criticism, and dissent is not and will never be a crime as it is safeguarded by the Constitution. Instead, the government should listen and heed the calls of marginalized sectors especially during this critical situation of our economy and health crisis we are facing”, iterates Maza.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has struck down hard on the country’s economy and health system for more than a year now, has taken countless lives and destroyed livelihoods. The continuous arrests of critics and so-called ‘rebels’ do not in any way contribute in defeating the virus. It only adds more possibilities of transmission which will increase the number of patients to our already overwhelmed hospitals.

“Elderly, ailing, and nursing detainees should be released and given immediate medical attention too, because their continued imprisonment only poses equal danger to their health and other prisoners. We do not want another Joseph Canlas, or another Baby River,” adds Maza.

Responding to the citizens’ health and implementing people-centered economic development should be paramount in government’s priorities in genuinely resolving the crisis in contrast to its politically repressive measures. “Not one individual should be subjected to repression simply because of their political and social involvement”, ends Maza.#