March 3, 2024

In the wake of Jade Castro‘s arrest last week, the family of the Filipino filmmaker has released a statement demanding a “transparent and fair investigation” and launched a fundraiser to cover mounting legal costs.

The statement, which Castro’s family signed alongside those of Noel Mariano, Ernesto Orcine and Dominic Ramos, who were also detained without warrant, was posted on the “Free Jade Castro” page on Facebook. Many Filipino filmmakers and industry professionals have shared it on social media.

Castro, Mariano, Orcine and Ramos are accused of arson after a modern jeepney (a minibus-like utility vehicle) was set on fire. However, TV station ABS-CBN and two local officials have placed the group more than an hour away from the scene of the crime at the time it took place, according to local news site Rappler.

In the statement, the families declared that the group had been arrested by the police without due process.

“On January 31, 2024, they drove from Manila to Mulanay, Quezon, to attend the Cocolunay festival where they mingled with the locals and enjoyed the festivities,” they said. “Numerous witnesses have attested to this. At around the same time, some 22 kilometers or more than half an hour away, in a barangay of another town in Quezon, four men wearing bonnets were allegedly seen hailing a modernized jeepney and, upon boarding it, flashed their guns and told the driver and the passengers to leave the vehicle. These unidentified men then set the jeep on fire.”

The statement added that the following morning, policemen went to the resort where Castro and his three friends were staying. After questioning the group, the policemen left, but six hours later, the same police officers invited the four to the police station to answer more questions. According to the families’ statement, the group has since been detained at the Catanauan municipal police station.

The statement continued: “No evidence was found on them. No motive either to connect them to the jeep burning incident. And yet the four continue to be detained. This is unbelievable, to say the least.”

They said that continuing without a “thorough and complete investigation is unjust, unlawful, and inhumane,” adding: “We, the families of Jade, Noel, Ernesto, and Dominic, demand a transparent and fair investigation. We ask all the concerned government agencies to look into this matter, assess the facts, and act accordingly and immediately.”

Earlier this week, the Directors Guild of the Philippines (DGPI) called for the “immediate release” of Castro and his friends.

Castro has directed independent films like comedy horror Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington (aka Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings) and TV series such as Beki Boxer and LSS (Last Song Syndrome). He is a producer on Some Nights I Feel Like Walking, which is in post and set for the festival circuit this year.

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