PCFS pays utmost respect to Filipino peasant hero Joseph Canlas, urges UNHRC to investigate

We, the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), are one with the Filipino farmers and people in their call for justice today as Ka Joseph “JC” Canlas, politically detained peasant leader, succumbed to death this morning due to COVID-19 complications.

We condemn, in the highest degree possible, the neglect and violence inflicted by the Philippine National Police and the Duterte administration towards the most honored farmer activist Ka JC.

We express our sincerest condolences to the family of Ka JC, his colleagues, the Filipino peasant movement, and the tens of millions of farmers in the Philippines he so humbly served. We mourn with you.

Ka JC was and will always be a beloved leader, a bold and daring activist, and a beacon of hope for land reform activists in Central Luzon and in the Philippines. As an outstanding member of Asian Peasant Coalition and PCFS, he serves as an inspiration for all farmers and activists of the Global South in fighting for land, justice, and peace.

That is why it is with inconsolable rage that we echo the call of Kilusang Magbubukid Ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines), where Ka JC served as vice-chairperson, in holding the Duterte administration accountable for the untimely demise of Canlas. We urge the global community, through the United Nations Human Rights Council, to investigate the escalating state-sponsored attacks on activists, farmers, and food producers in the Philippines.

Before he died, Ka JC was subjected to the most brutal of attacks by the Philippine state forces. He was arrested on March 30 this year on trumped up charges — a culmination of what seems to be a years-long campaign to discredit and vilify his work as a farmer activist. He was red-tagged online and on-ground. His face became a staple in government-sponsored propaganda against activists — linking them to armed forces of the New People’s Army.

He was not killed by a bullet like countless other farmer activists in the Philippines, but Joseph Canlas was certainly murdered.

He was murdered by the unspeakable negligence of his captors — the Philippine National Police — from arrest to his death. He was slain by the horrible conditions of prisons in the Philippines, which at least 656 political prisoners still endure today. He was murdered by Duterte’s war against farmers and food producers — now sitting atop 325 victims since he came to power.

In fact, exactly a year ago, farmer leader and human rights worker Adelaida “Nanay Ede” Macusang died under the same circumstances in the Southern Philippines. Ka JC was not the first and nor will he be the last victim of the deliberate weaponization of COVID-19 in prisons, if nothing is done.

We call on all our members and allies, peasant rights and human rights advocates in the world to demand justice and accountability in the death of our beloved Ka Joseph Canlas.

Long live international solidarity!
Justice for Joseph Canlas!
Stop Killing Farmers!

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