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Filmmaker Jade Castro’s ‘warrantless’ jeepney arson arrest slammed by art organizations

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Filmmaker Jade Castro’s ‘warrantless’ jeepney arson arrest slammed by art organizations
(1st UPDATE) The 'Zombadings' director and his friends were apprehended in Quezon province for allegedly burning a modern jeepney to the ground

MANILA, Philippines – Art organizations cried foul over what they considered the baseless arrest on Thursday, February 1 of filmmaker Jade Castro and three other men for allegedly burning down a modern jeepney in Catanauan, Quezon.

Filmmaker Jade Castro’s ‘warrantless’ jeepney arson arrest slammed by art organizations

The Directors’ Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI), the Philippine Center of International PEN (PEN Philippines), and DAKILA released statements of concern on their respective social media accounts on Saturday, February 3.

“Castro declared his innocence and stated he was on vacation with friends when personalities of the Philippine National Polce (PNP) arrested them for a crime that occurred in Catanauan, Quezon,” filmmakers group DGPI detailed.

“Castro shared more disturbing information: the arrest was warrantless. Jade Castro is a vetted DGPI member and an important voice of the Philippine Independent Cinema. 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,” the DGPI concluded.

“Jade, known for his socially-relevant films like Endo and Zombadings, has significantly influenced the creative sensibilities of emerging filmmakers through numerous workshops and mentorships, making profound contributions to the film industry,” said progressive artist-activist group DAKILA.

“As an advocate for justice, we urge an immediate, fair, and transparent investigation by Philippine authorities, trusting in our legal system to protect the rights of those in custody,” it urged.

“We call on the Philippine National Police, the Department of Justice, and all relevant authorities to conduct a quick, thorough, and transparent investigation into this and uphold the rule of law, protecting the rights of individuals under their custody,” literary group PEN Philippines said.

‘INOSENTE KAMI!’

According to reports by the Manila Bulletin, on Wednesday, January 31, a modern jeepney owned by the Gumaca Transport Service Cooperative had been burned to the ground, with police and witnesses saying that the perpetrators had worn bonnets and had been armed.

The driver, Carl Villanueva, said they were instructed by the suspects to get off the vehicle, and then the armed group set it on fire.

Person, Bus, Transportation
CHARRED. The remains of the torched modern jeepney. PNP Region 4-A

In turn, management of the said cooperative claimed the culprits were operators of traditional jeepneys, who’ve had beef with the cooperative since the latter filed for franchise consolidation under the government’s PUV Modernization Program.

Police then traced the suspects to Mi Casa Resort in Barangay Butanyog, Mulanay, Quezon. On Thursday, February 1, filmmaker Castro and his friends – sales manager Ernesto Orcine, civil engineer Noel Mariano, and civil engineer Dominic Ramos – who were staying at the said resort, were apprehended and brought to the Catanauan Municipal Police Station. They were then accused by the driver, conductor, and two passengers of the burned jeepney as the culprits.

On February 2, authorities filed a complaint for arson against Castro and his three companions before the local prosecutor’s office.

Colonel Ledon Monte, PNP-Quezon director, said investigators have yet to determine the motive behind the arson.

Relatives of Castro and his peers claimed they were wrongfully arrested.

“The witness said naka-bonnet yung apat; paano matuturo iyon (The witness said the four culprits wore bonnets, so how could they have identified them)?” one of the suspects’ relatives said in a TV Patrol interview.

Moira Lang, a film producer and playwright, said several witnesses stated Castro and his companions were taking part in the revelry at the public plaza of Mulanay on the night the vehicle was burned in Catanauan.

Castro himself, in a series of X posts, claimed innocence and said they were arrested without a warrant.

INOSENTE KAMI!” Castro wrote in a February 2 post. “Nagbabakasyon lang kaming magkakaibigan sa Mulanay, Quezon, pero inaresto kami sa krimen na nangyari sa Catanauan.”

(WE’RE INNOCENT! My friends and I were just vacationing in Mulanay, Quezon, but were arrested for a crime that happened in Catanauan.)

Later on February 3, Castro wrote, “Guys, sorry, ‘di maka-reply, bawal cellphone. Opo, warrantless arrest, arson.”

(Guys, sorry, I can’t reply to your messages; I’m not allowed to use a cellphone. Yes, this was a warrantless arrest for arson.)

As of writing, Castro and his peers remain detained at the said station.

Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption President Boy Arsenio Evangelista told Rappler that the investigation was “hastily done” and police filed the case without following case build-up processes. – with reports from Darcie De Galicia/Rappler.com

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