National | Media Release

The NFU Calls on the Government of Canada to Stop Funding Philippine “Anti-terrorism” Campaigns Targeting Peaceful Farmer Protestors

On June 9th, 2022, 83 Philippine farmers and allies were arrested and charged by the Philippine National Police for engaging in a peaceful protest to obtain food security in response to land-grabbing by corporations and landlords. Held in a cramped and unsanitary prison for three days, these promoters of sustainable food systems are facing charges of disobedience, obstruction of justice, and alleged trespassing on private property.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) joins PEN International in calling for the dismissal of all charges against the “Tinang 83” and for all peaceful protesters currently incarcerated in the Philippines to be released and all charges dropped.

The “Tinang 83” were arrested while engaging in  “bungkalan,” a collective act of land cultivation to advance land reform and food sovereignty through the practice of organic and sustainable agriculture.

The NFU is outraged that Philippine farmers are being labelled as terrorists without cause.

The mass arrest and charges laid against the “Tinang 83” are part of a larger trend of human rights violations against peaceful protesters—including members of the farmers’ reform organization, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)—executed by the former Duterte regime and now continuing under the authority of the newly elected Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr., the son of the former dictator, Marcos Sr.

In August 2020, Randall “Randy” Echanis, 72, the KMP’s Deputy Secretary General who helped craft the 2008 Agrarian Reform Bill, was stabbed multiple times in his home while undergoing medical treatment. Echanis’ allies allege that it was police forces that carried out his murder while Amnesty International has called on the authorities for an independent investigation. Four months later, Randy’s daughter, Amanda Echanis, a leader of the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, was arrested with her month-old baby for alleged possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives. Amanda and her son, Randall, are still in prison; Amanda maintains that the weapons found were planted by the national police.

The NFU agrees with the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada (ICHRP-Canada) that the Canadian government risks complicity in Philippine’s human rights violations. According to ICHRP-Canada, between 2017-2021 the Philippine government was among the international recipients of $13 million in Canadian government funding to support anti-crime and counter-terrorism capacity building. An additional $3 million in funding since 2018 from Global Affairs Canada has gone to the Philippines to support counter-terrorism and unspecified “security and political affairs” programs. These Canadian funds, argue ICHRP-Canada, have inadvertently enabled the Philippine Government to “criminalize dissent, target human rights defenders and critics of the Government and restrict democracy.”

The Philippine Government’s campaign has led to “thousands of killings, false charges, and arbitrary and irregular searches, arrests and detention” including the murder of Randy Echanis, the imprisonment of Amanda Echanis, and the recent mass arrest of the “Tinang 83.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and a well-respected team of independent commissioners have provided detailed reports on the Philippine’s ongoing human rights violations.

The NFU joins ICHRP-Canada in calling on the Government of Canada to immediately stop funding all counter-terrorism measures of the Philippine Government.

The NFU supports the ongoing peaceful protests and grassroots actions of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, fellow organizational members of La Via Campesina. La Via Campesina is an international farmer and peasant organization that advocates for the rights of peasants, food sovereignty, and family-farm-based sustainable agriculture.

We encourage you to write to Global Affairs Canada calling on them to stop funding Philippine so-called “counter-terrorism measures” that have been used to target peaceful protestors. We also encourage you to sign this petition calling for the dismissal of all charges against the Tinang 83.

Global Affairs Canada email:

Read: NFU Letter of Support for Farmers in Philippines – Signed