Detained peasant leader Joseph Canlas is in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a Pampanga hospital, suspected to have suffered a stroke and contracted the dreaded coronavirus disease in jail.
Canlas’ daughter Jenette announced his father was rushed to a hospital on Sunday morning after complaining of breathing difficulties as early as Saturday afternoon.
The elder Canlas experienced breathing difficulties and stuttering speech on Saturday afternoon and his family pleaded to jail authorities to bring him to a hospital.
He was eventually admitted to the hospital’s ICU while awaiting his Covid-19 test result.
Canlas was apprehended by the Central Luzon Criminal Investigation and Detection Group unit of the Philippine National Police (CIDG-PNP) last March 30 in what the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said is a questionable arrest using a defective search warrant.
The police said guns and explosives were found at the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) staff house where Canlas was staying.
Canlas, a prominent land reform activist and peasant leader, is AMGL chairperson and KMP vice chairperson.
“The extreme stress of his unjust detention and cramped jail conditions led to the deterioration of Canlas’ health. He has hypertension and diabetes, both comorbidities of COVID-19,” the KMP said in a statement.
KMP demanded Canlas’ immediate release on humanitarian grounds as well as full medical attention until his recovery.
“This is an urgent matter of life and death and justice. The congested jail conditions will only worsen Canlas’ health,” the KMP said Sunday.
The group said the CIDG-PNP and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology JMP will be liable for any untoward incident that may befall Canlas under detention.
“Canlas does not even deserve a day in jail. The evidence and charges against him are all fabricated,” KMP said.
KMP said there are 3,500 reported Covid cases in BJMP facilities nationwide as of March 22.
Kapatid, the support group for families and friends of political prisoners, also called on the government and the trial court in charge of Canlas’ case to release the detainee, saying that he deserves to be proper taken care of by his family and be given full medical attention.
“Let him fight for his life without the burdens brought by his continued unjust imprisonment for planted firearms,” the group’s spokesperson Fidel Lim said.
“We renew our call to the Supreme Court to fast-track the release of sick and elderly prisoners like Canlas as they are at great risk from the upsurge of the deadly COVID-19,” Lim added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)