Human rights defenders press call for Rey Casambre’s freedom

By Sanafe Marcelo

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rey Claro Casambre’s scheduled arraignment at Branch 19 of the Bacoor (Cavite) Regional Trial Court (RTC) did not push through Friday, November 29, further infuriating supporters who held a protest action to press for his immediate release.

Casambre was not brought to Bacoor by the Metro Manila District Jail personnel from Taguig after failing to receive a subpoena for the arraignment.

Arrested with his wife Cora in December 2018, Casambre was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Charges against Cora were immediately dropped, however, for lack of evidence.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) chairperson Carol Araullo said the couple’s arrest and the filing of criminal charges against Rey is “non-sense.”

“It is hard to believe that senior citizens who just attended a friend’s wake were going around Manila with a grenade and guns [in the dashboard of their car],” Araullo said.

Xandra Casambre, the couple’s daughter, said the charges are trumped-up, including the two counts of attempted murder and a murder case filed against her father in Davao Oriental “where he never been before.”

The arraignment was rescheduled to January 23 next year.

BJMP petition to bring Casambre back to Bacoor jail

Meanwhile, Casambre’s lawyers revealed that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) petitioned for Casambre’s return to Bacoor City Jail

Public Interest Law Center’s Rachel Pastores said that the judge presented a letter from the BJMP National Office requesting to transfer Casambre place of detention from Taguig to Bacoor.

Pastores said they were given 10 days to comment on the petition.

Xandra said they will oppose the petition, pointing out that harsh conditions at the Bacoor City Jail made his father sick in April

“But [the transfer] is a small matter compared to the fact he is detained because of the trumped-up charges filed against him,” Xandra said.

Xandra said her father’s criminal cases are Rodrigo Duterte government’s way of silencing opposition to “the government anti-people policies.”

“It is wrong that the people who promote social justice and change are being silenced, instead of being heard,” she said. #