“We wonder what the rush is all about. Of course they may cite court orders and logistics. But really, whisking away from lawyers, friends and kin a sick, frail and gentle though firm old man of peace like that to a far-flung place where they allege him to have murdered and attempted to kill government soldiers?”
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — A day before Valentines Day, human rights workers, members of grassroots organizations and relatives of detained peace advocate 67-year old Rey Claro Casambre attended the latter and his wife Cora’s court hearing at the Bacoor Hall of Justice Building, Tabing Dagat, Bacoor City, Cavite.
Casambre’s daughter, Xandra, shared that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) was pushing for her father’s immediate transfer to a jail in Davao long before scheduled hearings there, and despite the ongoing hearings in Bacoor on the trumped-up case of “illegal possession of firearms and explosives” against her parents.
“We wonder what the rush is all about. Of course they may cite court orders and logistics. But really, whisking away from lawyers, friends and kin a sick, frail and gentle though firm old man of peace like that to a far-flung place where they allege him to have murdered and attempted to kill government soldiers? I agree with Nanay when she said that his accusers’ maneuvers are all ‘based on a big lie’,” Xandra said.
The alleged Davao crime took place less than 13 hours after Rey met with some lawyers — and barely 18 hours after speaking before Congressional peace committees at the House of Representatives, she clarified.
The Casambre couple and their legal counsels today will present to the Fiscal their reply to the arresting police officers’ charges. The City Fiscal had earlier found the arresting officers’ evidence to be “preposterous”.
“In the name of justice, the case should be dropped altogether,” said the daughter.
Public Interest Law Center (PILC) meanwhile in a statement said that contrary to the police’s claims, there was no gun, grenade and detonating cord in Casambre’s dashboard compartment.
In the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Casambre and his wife Cora sworn before a Bacoor City prosecutor, they pointed out that the latter was subjected to surveillance and tailing at 4:00 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2018. At 12:00 midnight, Dec. 7, the couple was accosted by the police in Bacoor, Cavite.
“The loopholes and contradictions in the police’s own narrative is simply too large to ignore. The inquest prosecutor had initially referred the case for further investigation after failing to be convinced by ‘preposterous allegations’ of the police,” the PILC said in a statement.
The prosecutor also ordered the release of Cora pending the conduct of the preliminary investigation in the case of illegal possession of explosives on Dec. 11, 2018. The prosecutor also said in his resolution that the items allegedly found by the CIDG-NCR such as firearms and explosives along with 13-inch Macbook wouldn’t fit in the open dashboard compartment of Casambre’s car.
“In direct contradiction to their verbal statements, the police in their affidavit of arrest earlier stated that they found the laptop in the back of the car. The police had to patch up their story later in order to justify the search as within the plain view doctrine,” the PILC said.
“With the lies and malice exposed, the investigating prosecutor is thence challenged to remain steadfastly independent, to ensure administration of genuine justice, and ultimately, to dismiss the complaint,” it added.
‘Release Ka Rey’
“At the ages of 67 and 72, my parents deserve to do what they love — to serve the Filipino people alongside their colleagues, friends and kin. They have devoted most of their lives to being advocates of peace and social justice, and this is how the government and its agencies treat them,” Xandra said.
She appealed to all Filipinos who believe in civil liberties and human rights to support the campaign to demand the immediate release of her father and the dismissal of all charges against him.
“The CIDG, the PNP, and the Duterte government itself should be taken to the task for arresting peace advocates who have done nothing illegal. Their relatives and the rest of our chosen family in the human rights community are outraged that he remains under detention, with his health, safety and very life under threat because the CIDG wants to fly him to Davao. We demand the immediate dismissal of the charges against him,” she said.
Casambre is the Executive Director of the Philippine Peace Center and very active in the peace and human rights community, frequently invited to speak in peace advocacy gatherings in the Philippines and abroad. He is an alumnus of the Department of Physics of the University of the Philippines and a former instructor in UP Baguio in the 1970s and recently a consultant in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). (With a report from Anne Marxze D. Umil)