Free the Casambres! Free all political prisoners!

Another peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) was illegally arrested on the evening of December 7, 2018. Peace consultant Rey Casambre, 67, was arrested along with his wife, Patricia Cora Casambre, 72, while on their way home in Cavite. Both were brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon City.  Rey Casambre is the 7th NDFP peace consultant arrested under the Duterte regime. 

Rey Casambre is also the executive director of the Philippine Peace Center and is supposedly covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), an agreement that seeks to provide protection and “free and unhindered” passage for individuals involved in the peace negotiations. Said agreement also provides immunity for peace consultants and staff from “surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions.” Please check this link for more information on JASIG: 

“Rey and Cora Casambre are peace advocates. Rey Casambre worked and contributed tirelessly in the peace talks over the course of different administrations, while Cora supported many human rights and peace campaigns and initiatives. These advocates believed in peace based on justice, and they have dedicated their lives at finding solutions to the root causes of armed conflict in the country. Duterte has made a 180 degree turn regarding his attitude on the peace negotiations, influenced by militarists and warmongers in his Cabinet. This is indicative of the Duterte regime’s choice for a militarist, fascist response. Ito ay tanda ng pagiging utak-militarista ni Duterte,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay. She said the recent arrest of the Casambres add to the 540 political prisoners in the country.

Palabay emphasized that the same modus operandi used to arrest other peace consultants such as Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva and Rafael Baylosis, is now being employed against the Casambres. A warrant of arrest for trumped up charges of murder and attempted murder, issued on November 23, 2018, was used as basis for Casambre’s arrest, while additional charges based on planted evidence of firearms and explosives are being prepared. 

“This is all in keeping with their legal offensive, subsequent to the operation of the Inter Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA). We see connivance between government security forces and the courts to criminalize peace advocates. This is now becoming a trend, to feign legality amid the deliberate political persecution of known critics and activists genuinely working for change,” explained Palabay. 

“We continue to call for the resumption of the peace talks because with the substantial progress it has achieved with drafts on socioeconomic reforms already at the table. From the very start, we do not subscribe to the notion that achieving peace is as simplistic as signing a ceasefire agreement. Peace must be based on social justice, and thus would need holistic and substantial, yet realistic reforms in our political and economic system. Free Rey and Cora Casambre! Free all political prisoners! Resume the peace talks!” ended Palabay.