HomeNewsArts and rights community in unison: Free Jade Castro

Arts and rights community in unison: Free Jade Castro

Human rights and artist groups called for the immediate release of progressive filmmaker Jade Castro after his warrantless arrest last February 2.

The warrantless arrest coincided with the end of the country visit of United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Opinion Irene Khan who highlighted the reports of civil society organizations on the wrongful detention of civilians.

“The timing of this arrest, which happened during the official country visit of UNSR Irene Khan, is very concerning. It spotlights a problematic trend that civil society organizations have reported, where civilians, particularly artists and cultural workers, are being wrongfully detained on false accusations,” said artist group Artista ng Rebolusyong Pangkultura (ARPAK).

In a UNSR report submitted by the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), the increased number of arrests and trumped-up charges is identified as one of the major issues concerning violations of freedom of expression.

“How many more artists will continue to be vulnerable to such attacks? We denounce how these violations of our rights persist under the current administration and join our colleagues in the call to release Castro immediately,” CAP said in a statement.

The group said Castro is the third artist under Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration slapped with trumped-up charges. Drag artist Pura Luka Vega and visual artist Max Santiago were also charged with common crimes.

Declaring innocence

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Castro was apprehended with his three other friends while on vacation in Mulanay, Quezon. They were accused of burning a modern jeepney in Catanauan, Quezon.

He declared innocence, saying that they were only within the vicinity of Quezon solely for vacation.

Castro is a member of the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, Inc. (DGPI). He is known for his award-winning films LSS (2019), Zombadings 1: Patayin sa shokot si Remington (2011), and Endo (2007).

“We stand by his innocence and testify to his good character. We urge clarity on the matter from the authorities involved, and the immediate release of Jade Castro from detention,” said Mark Meily in a statement, president of DGPI.

Castro, as characterized by DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, has “significantly contributed to the creative sensibilities of emerging filmmakers through workshops and mentorships.”

This is also echoed by the Asia Pacific Film Institute, stating that Castro is an esteemed and valuable member of their faculty, known for his respectability and professionalism in his years of teaching.

Quezon-based human rights groups sound alarm

Human rights watchdog Tanggol Quezon said in a statement that the illegal arrest by the Philippine National Police (PNP) is alarming, especially on the arrest of progressive filmmakers like Castro.

“It is clear that there are continuing human rights violations in Quezon province, through forms of illegal and warrantless arrest. Fear mongering is also persistent in the ranks of state forces, to suppress the dissenting citizens and farmers,” Tanggol Quezon said.

They also cited the 2021 arrest of Romeo “Arvin” Boromeo, a leader and organizer of the Coco Levy Fund Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM) – Quezon, as a significant pattern to Castro’s arrest.

With these mounting cases, CAP said that it is ironic, especially with the denial of the current administration of the human rights abuses in the country.

CAP urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct a full investigation of the incident and ensure the safety of the accused.

As of this writing, Castro and his colleagues are detained at the Catanuan Municipal Police Station.

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