“Freedom is meaningless if those who dissent are persecuted by those in power. Our heroes sacrificed their lives so that we can be free yet those who follow their footsteps are under attack. It is clear that those who jail activists and human rights defenders are no different from our former colonial masters who criminalized any expression of dissent,” Mong Palatino, chairperson of BAYAN Metro Manila stated.
According to them, that “Independence Day was celebrated yet there is neither freedom for the people nor genuine independence for the country” is an irony.
The group, along with Karapatan Metro Manila and Free Ferdinand Castillo Movement, led a protest demanding the release of political prisoner Ferdinand Castillo today in front of Caloocan Regional Trial Court, in time for the hearing of ‘trumped-up’ charges filed against Castillo.
The groups assailed the continuing injustice brought upon by the state in the form of harassing, imprisoning, and even killing activists, unionists, and organizers.
Castillo was arrested on February 12, 2017, following the cancellation of the negotiations by President Rodrigo Duterte.
At the time of his arrest, Ferdinand Castillo is the campaign officer of BAYAN Metro Manila and a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) panel for the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Philippine Government.
“We are worried yet vigilant with what happened to Maoj Maga. Ferdinand Castillo, Juan Alexander Reyes, and the Rosales couple, to name a few, are also facing the same (illegal possession of firearms) case. The extreme prejudice of the State towards militant activists is the sole reason of this wrongful conviction. We are appealing to the judges to listen to the voice of reason and dismiss all these fabricated cases filed against activists,” Palatino said.