UPDATE: The arrested relief operations volunteers and the responding paralegal of Sagip Kanayunan (Save the Countryside) project of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) are now free on bail. We thank all our organizations and networks for supporting the call for their immediate release. However, our fight continues. Law is being weaponized in the Philippines and in many other countries to criminalize relief efforts of progressive organizations that have been critical of the government’s lacking response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We echo that governments should focus on delivering medical solutions to end the pandemic instead of wielding repression and resorting to militarist measures to contain the coronavirus.
Members and networks of the People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty expressed their solidarity to the volunteers of Sagip Kanayunan, a project of PCFS member Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas that provides relief to agricultural workers in Norzagaray, Bulacan province.
Since the whole island of Luzon was put in “enhanced community quarantine” in mid-March, the poor and vulnerable sectors in affected regions were restricted of mobility and livelihoods were put to a halt. Those unreached by government aid rely on independent groups that conduct independent relief efforts.
KMP’s Sagip Kanayunan has been ongoing for almost a month already when police apprehended the third wave of its relief operations on April 19, 2020.
Asian Peasant Coalition: Immediate Unconditioned Release of Relief Volunteers of Sagip Kanayun!
It needs to be emphasized the highly militarist approach of the Philippine President Duterte in implementing the quarantine and lockdown measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is extremely reprehensible that the Armed Forces of the Philippine has undertaken martial law-like measures in implementing the Enhanced Community Quarantine policy. There has been consistent concern from the international community on the human rights violations and brutality shown by the Philippine administration for restricting movement during the Covid-19.
We respectfully urge the Philippine government to show due regard for the civil and political rights of the detained volunteers. We support the calls for their immediate release and for an end to what many in the Philippines fear might be politically motivated attacks on peasant advocates on the pretext of draconian lockdown measures. Lastly, we express our solidarity with all the groups and individuals going out of their way to help communities wrestling with the ongoing crisis.
Youth for Food Sovereignty: Give Health Rights to the People, Stop Criminalization and ReleaseArrested Activists
The arrest and criminalization carried out by the Duterte government shows how in the midst of the failure to handle the crisis due to COVID-19, violations of people’s rights continue to occur. Besides that what is dangerous is how humanitarian work and services to the people are not in a safe condition due to criminalization that is so easily carried out by the state. The Duterte government should focus on providing protection for social services and guarantees for the rights of the people rather than carrying out various anti-democratic actions and even against social services and humanitarian work.
Roots for Equity, Pakistan: Release the Sagip Kanayunan Food Relief Team
Roots for Equity strongly condemns the illegal arrest and harassment of seven volunteers who were part of relief efforts to peasants and urban-poor households during the Covid-19 lockdown in the Philippines. This is particularly reprehensible given the extreme vulnerability of the workers and peasants in the face of twin risks to health and livelihood that accompanies Covid-19. Instead of lauding the work of volunteers who at the risk of their own health are working to bring relief to the hunger faced by thousands who are unable to earn even the meager amounts that were their lot under imperialist policies.
Ponlok Khmer, Cambodia: PKH Condemns Arrest of Sagip Kanayunan Volunteers
PKH, a member organization of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), echoed its concern on the militarist approach of the Philippine government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We denounce the baseless persecution of the seven volunteers who wish to extend help to poor farmer communities whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. They have been crying for adequate humanitarian aid from the government since the locked down was declared.
Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Communities: CCFC calls for immediate release of 7 detained relief volunteers
CCFC, a member organization of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), condemns the militarist approach of the Duterte government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We denounce the Duterte government’s persecution of peasant organizations and its advocates to the extent of criminalizing volunteerism and humanitarian intervention. We stand in solidarity with the KMP and strongly support their call for the immediate release of the seven relief volunteers.
FMN expressed a violent condemnation of the Philippine government using militaristic means in the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. Filipinos like the people of Indonesia and other countries, do not need a militaristic approach, but the certainty of safety, health and fulfillment of life needs. There is no reason for the Duterte regime to prohibit humanitarian activities and help fellow people in addressing the ongoing health and economic crisis. The arrest of six activists and volunteers was a violation of the democratic rights of people.