AGHAM condemns the treacherous arrest and continuing unjust incarceration of our fellow S&T and peace advocates Rey Claro Casambre and his wife, Patricia Cora Casambre. The elderly couple were on their way home in the wee hours of December 7th from a tribute paying homage to their friend and fellow scientist for the people Rolando Pena at the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences when they were forced off their vehicle by 11 heavily armed men on 5 separate vehicles. They were slapped with malicious trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, with Rey later outrageously charged with murder, and remain in the custody of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame.
Rey and Cora were both scholars of the then National Science Development Board (NSDB) – now known as the DOST – at the University of the Philippines with Cora taking up Mathematics in 1966 and Rey, Physics in 1971. They were also co-teachers at UP Baguio where Cora was teaching Mathematics after previously teaching in UP Tarlac, and Rey was teaching Physics after his time with the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission in Diliman.
Not content with studying and teaching Physics and Math, the Casambre couple were fervent students of the fermenting social realities at the time, and were eager to help enunciate the role of science and technology (S&T) amid a backdrop of a backward and pre-industrial economy. Both were in the first National Conference on the State of S&T in the Philippines held around 1971 in UP Baguio. Rey would be later present in the forum-launching of Luis Jalandoni’s State of S&T in the Philippines in 1997.
At the time of their arrest, Rey and Cora were both tireless workers of the Philippine Peace Center (PPC), where Rey serves as Executive Director. Since the signing of The Hague Joint Declaration in September 1992, which served as the framework agreement on peace negotiations between the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Rey has been active in the peace process, and can be seen in different fora and media platforms pushing for the successful continuation and completion of the GRP-NDFP peace talks. In the past year, he has been active in pushing for the signing of agreements under the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms – what could have been a landmark document that would have spelled significant reforms such as agrarian reform and rural development, and the development of Philippine national industries that would vastly benefit the S&T sector in the country.
That is why we find it outrageous that the two steadfast peace advocates are slapped with outlandish charges of illegal possession and murder. Only peace spoilers eager to peddle their fantastic narrative would find logic in the couple having in their possession a caliber 45 pistol with magazine and live ammunition and a fragmentation grenade. It is even more outlandish to believe that Rey is involved in murder more than 1,000 kilometers away in Davao Oriental.
AGHAM joins the calls of fellow peace advocates for the immediate release of Rey and Cora Casambre. We call on the dismissal of their ludicrous trumped-up charges, and urge the Duterte administration to pursue the path of peace instead of harassing, red-tagging, vilifying, and persecuting peace advocates and scientists for the people.##