Nimfa Lanzanas, a woman with a big heart

Human rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas of KAPATID-Southern Tagalog (Photo courtesy of Karapatan)

Who is Nimfa Lanzanas and why is she behind bars?


MANILA — Nimfa Lanzanas is one of the three arrested in simultaneous police raids on March 7, which also left nine farmers and human rights workers killed. The incidents dubbed as Bloody Sunday happened just two days after President Rodrigo Duterte issued yet another ‘kill’ order against communists in the Philippines.

Read: ‘Bloody Sunday’ spells killings, mass arrests in Southern Tagalog

Lanzanas, who is facing illegal possession of firearms and explosives charges, is simply known as Nanay Nimfa in the human rights community in the country.

Kapatid, an organization of relatives of political prisoners, said Lanzanas was drawn to human rights work after the arrest of her son Edward.

Edward was arrested in 2014 in Caloocan City, when he accompanied then seven-month-pregnant Andrea Rosal for a maternity check-up. Both of them were interrogated and tortured by their police captors. Lanzanas’s son remains in detention.

Read: Kin of political prisoners still await Duterte’s promise to free detainees

“Nimfa is poor but a woman with a big heart who also looks after three grandchildren, ages 6, 9 and 12,” said Fides Lim, spokesperson of Kapatid.

When arrested inside her home in Cabuyao, Laguna, all her grandchildren were with her. The police claimed they recovered firearms and explosives from her house.

Though Lanzanes is now 61 years old, she “manages to bring food to political prisoners in jails in the provinces and to go to far-away courts to secure case papers and visit their families to boost their morale,” Lim said.

“Nimfa thinks nothing of her own sicknesses like hypertension, anemia and rhinitis just so she can be of help whenever she is needed even if it means walking for kilometers to visit political prisoners. When did it become a crime to help people in need?” Lim said.

In her Facebook post, lawyer Kristina Conti of the Public Interest Law Center said Lanzanes “helped other victims and families, sometimes at the expense of time and effort that could have gone to her son.”

Lawyer Maria Sol Taule of Karapatan, in a Facebook post, also described Lanzanes as courageous and hardworking, not only for her son’s case but for many cases of political prisoners.

Now a political prisoner herself, Lanzanas is asking for help.

“To those listening, please help me get out of this jail,” she tearily said in a video posted on Karapatan’s Twitter account.

Taule expressed that even at the age of 61, Nanay Nimfa still proves that her age and responsibilities as a mother and a grandmother are not hindrances to serve the people of the Southern Tagalog region. (

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