On June 8, 2018 Benito Quilloy and Rita Espinoza were arrested by three Bayugan City police men by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 7, Agusan del Sur. However, the warrant of arrest is issued against a certain Louie Antonio Martinez and a certain Aurora Cayon.
Quilloy and Espinoza were then detained at Camp Crame and were surreptitiously brought to the Bayugan Police Station. Their lawyers were not informed of the arrest and they were disallowed to bring some of their personal belongings and medicines. On June 11 they were transferred to the Bayugan City Jail.
ASCENT condemns this latest move on the political persecution of Ben and Rita. State security forces have combined their resources and efforts to allege that Ben and Rita are Louie Antonio Martinez and Aurora Cayon respectively. They are accusing the two of criminal offenses including illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, arson, kidnapping, frustrated murder, attempted multiple murder and murder.
They were initially arrested on October 19, 2017 in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental by about 10 elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They were forcibly taken, blindfolded and handcuffed and detained at the Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod City. On October 21 they were taken to Camp Crame without the knowledge of their lawyers.
Ben and Rita are development workers who have involved themselves in the issues and struggle of the poor and marginalized since their student days. They are among the many development workers and activists who are being persecuted under the Duterte administration.
Similar to other political prisoners they are facing fake charges filed in various provinces all over the country.
The ways of political persecution against development workers and activists have become more intricate yet still remain unjust. Free Ben and Rita! Free All Political Prisoners! #