A week after Filipino filmmaker Jade Castro (Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings) was arrested for alleged arson, his family released a statement demanding his release alongside his three friends, Noel Mariano, Ernesto Orcine, and Dominic Ramos. According to this statement, the police were too hasty in their investigation.
On January 31st, four men in bonnets allegedly set fire to a jeepney (minibus-like utility vehicle) after forcing the driver and passenger to leave. The police stopped Castro and his friends at the resort they were staying at during the Cocolunay festival. Six hours after the police questioned them, the four men were led to the station, where they have since been detained, according to the family’s statement.
In addition to a fundraiser to help cover legal fees, the families of Castro and his friends posted their statement on the “Free Castro” page, which other Filipino filmmakers and industry members have shared on social media. The Directors Guild of the Philippines (DGPI) called for their “immediate release” earlier this week.
In their statement, the families claim that the men allegedly “drove from Manila to Mulanay, Quezon, to attend the Cocolunay festival where they mingled with the locals and enjoyed the festivities.” Television station ABS-CBN and two local officials have backed these claims, alleging that they were more than an hour away from the scene of the crime.
The families claimed that due to a lack of evidence or actual motives, the four men should be released immediately. “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,” they proclaim.