As hearing on new case starts, our call persists: Free Frenchie Mae Cumpio
January 23, 2023

Today, on Frenchie Mae Cumpio’s 24th birthday, the first hearing for the added trumped-up charge of terrorist financing filed against her and Mariel Domequil will begin at the Tacloban City regional trial court.

The charge made by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) against Frenchie and Mariel is connected to the money that was confiscated in the raid conducted by joint forces of the police and military at the two’s boarding house on February 7, 2020. Following this, two supposed rebel surrenderees were presented by the military to allege that the money is supposedly to finance the New People’s Army (NPA).

The money seized underwent a civil forfeiture case at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 18 and was granted in favor of the government in December last year, without prompt notice to Frenchie, Mariel, or their legal counsel. Today, our lawyers will also file a motion to reconsider this decision at the Manila RTC.

These cases sit atop the illegal possession of firearms and explosives charges that are proceeding at a slow pace due in no small part to the delaying tactics of the prosecution, which no doubt wants to keep Frenchie and Mariel behind bars.

Let us not forget that prior to her arrest, Frenchie faced incessant red-tagging and had documented harassment and surveillance incidents which she believes were done by state forces. As as a community journalist and radio anchor, Frenchie covered and gave critical analysis to the stories of the struggling people of Eastern Visayas. For that, she was targeted.

At this point, we can no longer pretend that the police and military narrative of progressives being linked to what they deem as ‘terrorist groups’ are valid. Too many cases of evidence-planting and forced surrenderees perpetrated by state forces have been exposed by different groups. To continue to give space to the nonsensical and harmful ramblings of armed state forces is tantamount to reinforcing their lies.

We at Altermidya Network call on the courts both in Manila and Tacloban to see the light of truth and give justice to the case of Frenchie, Mariel, and the rest of the ‘Tacloban 5.’ Within the span of three years, similar cases have already been scrapped. It is our hope that despite the continued fear-mongering of armed state forces, our justice system stands firmly and with integrity.

Today, we continue to call—and wish on Frenchie’s birthday—that the charges against her will finally be dropped.

Free Frenchie Mae Cumpio!End impunity! Defend press freedom!

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