Court dismisses arson case against director and 3 others

This article is available in Pilipino

Jade Castro, director of independent films, and three others were released after the Catanauan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 96 dismissed the arson case filed against them by the police. They came out of jail yesterday evening, March 11, after 40 days of unjust imprisonment.

Castro, along with Ernesto Orcine, Noel Mariano, and Dominic Ramos, were accused of setting a “modern jeep” on fire in Gumaca, Quezon in Southern Tagalog on January 31. They were arrested without a warrant on February 1. Charges against them were pursued despite a number of witnesses confirming they were in Mulanay town during the incident.

The court upheld the motion filed by Castro’s lawyers to dismiss the case on the grounds that their arrest was invalid.

The lawyer of the four said the police failed to prove that they had personal knowledge about Castro committing the crime, and the information provided by the witnesses who identified them was also insufficient. The police’s excuse that they were in “hot pursuit” of the “suspects” was also not credible because Castro and his companions did not show any suspicious behavior when they were arrested.

Family members, people in the film industry, progressive arts organizations, and many supporters cheered the release of the four.

In the press conference held by Castro with their lawyers, they made it clear that the illegal arrest, filing of fabricated charges and detention against them was not an “isolated case”, but part of the coldbloodedness and social injustice of state forces.

“The unjust arrest and detention of artists, activists and other citizens are a reflection of the worsening state of impunity and utter disregard for human rights in our country,” the Concerned Artists of the Philippines said.

AB: Court dismisses arson case against director and 3 others