On June 8, 2018, at around 2pm, Benito Quilloy and Rita Espinoza were surreptitiously transferred from Camp Crame to the Bayugan Municipal Police Station without the knowledge of their lawyers and relatives. Both are facing fake charges in Agusan del Sur. Quilloy is being accused of murder while Espinoza is facing robbery and arson raps. Quilloy is the Senior Consultant of the Assert Socio Economic Initiatives Network (ASCENT) and Espinoza is a project staff.
The two were arrested on October 19, 2017 at a restaurant in Kabankalan City by the combined elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They were flown to Camp Crame on October 21, also without the knowledge of their lawyers. October 24, they were presented by then PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa as high-ranking officials of the Community Party of the Philippines (CPP).
According to Bishop Dindo Ranojo, spokesperson of ASCENT, “it is against the right of detained persons to be transferred without informing their legal counsels. Their health condition was further endangered since the police did not allow them to bring their maintenance medicines and personal belongings. We at ASCENT denounce in the strongest term this action by the government!”
“We were very worried about Quilloy and Espinoza’s safety while they were being relocated. They could have been tortured or killed at any time while in transit. We were greatly relieved when Espinoza was able to make contact this morning”, said Bishop Ranojo.
“Quilloy and Espinoza are innocent of the fake charges filed against them. They are among the development workers who have dedicated their lives in service of the poor and marginalized, especially those living in rural areas. But the government continues to harass, intimidate, and make false charges against them”, added Bishop Ranojo. “We at ASCENT are calling for their immediate release and also of all political prisoners”, he concluded.