Monday, February 4, 2013

STATEMENT OF POLITICAL DETAINEE ERICSON ACOSTA ON HIS RELEASE

 Nearly two years after my arrest, I am in high spirits as I return to the ranks of cultural workers and mass activists for national democracy.

My incarceration brought me face to face with the grim conditions in prison, and the dismal state of our justice system. In those two years, as well, my comrades and supporters have kept me abreast on current events, national campaigns, and urgent people’s concerns. Our fight for human rights and justice amidst the climate of impunity in the country is even more pressing today;  and it is a compelling reason for our unity and action.

Our campaign for human rights has for the past years attained worldwide reach. We are in a better  position to push for the release of all political prisoners. Reflecting on my own experience, a crucial component of this campaign is our call to end the criminalization of political dissent, illegal arrest and torture.  Only then can we ensure that people like Maricon Montajes, Charity Dino, Alan Jazmines, Bart Alcantara, Eduardo Sarmiento, Randy Vegas, Raul Camposano, who have chosen to serve the people will not suffer further injustice.

I wish to thank the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) led by Atty. Edre Olalia, Atty. Jun Oliva and Atty. Rey Cortez and the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) which is a broad network that vigorously campaigned for my freedom here and abroad. I would also like to thank the Public Attorney’s Office led by Atty. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, the doctors and staff of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Sen. Chiz Escudero, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),  the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), KARAPATAN, SELDA,  BAYAN, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, the Amnesty International, PEN International and Philippine PEN led by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, the various Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines in various parts of the world, INTAL Belgium, HumanWrongs Philippines, the ALL U.P. Workers Alliance, CONTEND, various people’s organizations and progressive partylist groups representatives from Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, ACT and Kabataan, and the Kapunungan han Gudti nga Paraoma ha Weste han Samar-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KAPAWA-KMP) which enabled me to integrate with the peasant communities in Samar.

We will continue to call for a general, omnibus and unconditional amnesty for all political prisoners. We will continue to fight for justice. And through our collective efforts, we will be victorious.

PADAYON!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DOJ dismisses Ericson Acosta case, poet demands freedom for all political prisoners

January 31, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference: Ericson Acosta, 0939-9259368
DOJ dismisses Ericson Acosta case
Poet demands freedom for all political prisoners

After almost two years, cultural worker Ericson Acosta is now free to write poems and songs outside prison.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today released a favorable resolution to Acosta’s Petition to have his criminal case reviewed. His Petition for Review was filed at the DoJ in September 2011.

Acosta was arrested in San Jorge, Samar in February 13, 2011 on suspicion that he is a member of the New People’s Army --  just because he carried a laptop. He was falsely charged with illegal possession of explosives at the Gandara Regional Trial Court. Last January 17, the Gandara RTC granted Acosta temporary release to undergo medical check-up, confinement and treatment at the National Kidney Transplant Institute in Quezon City. The Gandara RTC, Branch 41, granted the said motion on the same day.

Asked what he plans to do soon after his release, Acosta said, “I would personally thank everyone who campaigned for my release – my family, lawyers, friends, former classmates and colleagues, fellow artists and human rights advocates. Without their continuous support,  authorities would not have taken action on my case.  There is an urgent need to continue the struggle to free all political prisoners.”

Human rights group KARAPATAN reported that there are now more than 400 political prisoners under the Aquino administration. However, Malacanang, through its spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, made a public statement that there are no political prisoners in the Philippines.

“The unwarranted arrest and torture torment political prisoners each day they remain in prison. Political prisoners are rendered de facto ‘criminals’ and ‘terrorists,’ deprived of due process, forced to be at the mercy of the military. This injustice has to end.” Acosta said.

Acosta’s Petition for Review cited irregularities and human rights violations in the conduct of his arrest and detention cited in the petition for review, namely, 1) he was arrested without warrant while not committing any crime or doing anything illegal; 2) he was not informed of the reason for his arrest at the time of his arrest; 3) he was denied the right to counsel; 4) he was denied a phone call and prevented from contacting his family or lawyer; 5) he was subjected to prolonged interrogation for 44 hours; 6) he was physically and psychologically tortured during tactical interrogation; 7) he was deprived of sleep, threatened, intimidated, coerced and forced to admit membership in the NPA; 8) the grenade subject of the case was planted; 9) the complaint against him was filed in court only after 72 hours and 30 minutes; and, 10) he was detained in a military camp, which is not of civilian jurisdiction.

The Free Ericson Acosta Campaign rejoiced at the DoJ’s decision and held a short program outside NKTI. The group said that a solidarity event is to be held in the next few days in support of all political prisoners in the country.  he campaign to free Ericson Acosta has been sustained for almost two years, gaining widespread local and international support from prominent artist and human rights organizations such as the Amnesty International, PEN International, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, INTAL-Belgium, The International Conference for Progressive Culture-People’s Art Network, BAYAN, SELDA, UP Diliman University Council, Concerned Artists of the Philippines and even members and officials of the state’s National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).  On November 2011, Acosta was named finalist of the Imprisoned Artist Prize at the Freedom to Create Awards Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, along with other nominees from Myanmar and Tibet.


Acosta said, “In jail, I yearned for sea and sky. Freedom cannot be achieved by mere yearning, only by struggle. ###

PRESS STATEMENT
31 January 2013

On the DOJ resolution granting poet-activist Ericson Acosta's petition for review, reversing probable cause and dismissing trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives:

We hail the resolution as it finally officially exposed the trumped-up charge of illegal possession of explosives against our client who has suffered already a gross injustice. Somehow, it brings some renewed hope again that dogged pursuit of justice and persistent efforts to right a wrong can still be rewarded ultimately. We hope that the many who are politically persecuted, thrown in jail on false or fabricated charges through legal shortcuts and hocus-pocus, and made to indefinitely wait in anguish will get their own well-deserved freedom.

References:
Atty. Jun Oliva, counsel from NUPL (+639157707067)
Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL secretary general (+639175113373)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Int’l groups to DOJ: Resolve pending review, release Ericson Acosta now!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2013

International human rights groups appealled yet again to the Department of Justice (DoJ)  to immediately issue a favorable resolution to the Petition for Review filed by detained poet-activist Ericson Acosta.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who met with Acosta’s family last week, promised Acosta and his supporters that the DoJ resolution will be out “by Friday (last week) or early next week.” However, The DoJ is yet to release its decision as of posting time.

In separate statements addressed to the DoJ, human rights support groups from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, reiterated their appeal for Acosta’s immediate and unconditional release.  

“Acosta’s complainants have failed to file any comment on this petition. Without such opposition, the review petition should have been resolved within 60 days,” said Rev. Canon Barry Naylor, honorary president of the CHRP-UK (Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines-United Kingdom).  The petition for review was filed by Acosta’s lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) in September 2011.

“We as SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights Rights in the Philippines) demand that all of the trumped-up and fabricated charges against him be dropped and that he is set free in order to pursue his artistic passions,” said Rupert Estanislao, chair of the SF CHRP.

“(Acosta’s) continued detention is a colossal injustice to Acosta and to the Filipino people whom he has chosen to serve through his courageous and creative involvement in the people’s struggle for their economic, political and cultural rights,”  said Orval K. Chapman, founding member of the Canada-Philippines-Solidarity for Human Rights.

Acosta, 40, a cultural worker arrested by the military in San Jorge, Samar while conducting human rights research,  is currently confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City after securing a court order for a medical furlough.  Upon arrest, Acosta was interrogated and tortured inside a military camp for three days before a trumped-up charge of illegal possession of explosive was filed against him to justify his arrest and detention.  Before his confinement at the NKTI, Acosta was detained for 23 months at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail in Samar.

His supporters say that his current medical problems are the direct result of torture and dismal prison conditions.

The Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) demanded that the DOJ resolve the case immediately while Acosta is under medical furlough. “We do not want him to return to a hostile environment given his medical condition,” the group said.  

“The only thing (Acosta)  is guilty of is dedication and service to the oppressed masses of the Philippines,” they said.

Father also in hospital

Acosta’s family continues to raise funds for his medical bills even as Acosta’s elderly father, Isaias, 79, who publicly appealed for his son to receive medical treatment since July of last year, is now also scheduled to undergo a spinal operation within the week.

“The distress of Ericson’s imprisonment has also taken its toll on my husband’s health. He is in severe pain now due to a spinal ailment and needs to immediately undergo operation. We are very old, our only wish is to see our son walk free again,” said Liwaway, 80,  Acosta’s mother. ###

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Supporters of Ericson Acosta want DOJ to resolve petition while poet still under medical furlough



January 23, 2013  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 

 
Supporters of Ericson Acosta want DOJ to resolve petition while poet still under medical furlough

The family, supporters and fellow artists of detained poet Ericson Acosta held a picket-rally at the Department of Justice to call for his immediate release.

Acosta, 40, a political prisoner was earlier granted temporary release from the Calbayog sub-provincial jail to undergo medical treatment at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, through the provisional assistance of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) led by Chief Atty. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta .

In line with the PAO’s Legal and Medical Jail Visitation and Decongestion Program, Atty. Rueda-Acosta visited Samar Sub-Provincial Jail inmates, including Acosta, at his detention cell, and consequently filed a Manifestation cum Compliance on 17 January 2013 seeking for his release for the purpose of undergoing medical check-up, confinement and treatment at the NKTI.

The picket-rally was held as Atty. Rueda-Acosta submitted her report to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on PAO’s provisional assistance on Acosta’s case.  The PAO, in the same letter, requested that the DOJ “immediately resolve” the petition for review filed by Acosta’s legal counsels on September 1, 2011 “in the highest interest of justice and for humanitarian reasons”.

The PAO’s submission came in light of DOJ Chief Leila de Lima’s directive for the “immediate disposition” of Acosta’s petition for review following intensified clamor from his supporters and a personal letter from Acosta requesting for a dialogue.

Acosta’s supporters in the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) said that the DOJ failed to act promptly on the petition for review. “It’s been almost two years. Ericson’s current medical condition is due mainly to having been tortured and unjustly and illegally incarcerated. The DOJ should immediately dismiss the complaint against Ericson,” said National Artist for Literature Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera.

Acosta’s petition for review stated several irregularities and human rights violations in Acosta’s arrest and detention, namely, 1) he was arrested without warrant while not committing any crime or doing anything illegal; 2) he was not informed of the reason for his arrest at the time of his arrest; 3) he was denied the right to counsel; 4) he was denied a phone call and prevented from contacting his family or lawyer; 5) he was subjected to prolonged interrogation for 44 hours; 6) he was physically and psychologically tortured during tactical interrogation; 7) he was deprived of sleep, threatened, intimidated, coerced and forced to admit membership in the NPA; 8) the grenade subject of the case was planted; 9) the complaint against him was filed in court only after 72 hours and 30 minutes; and, 10) he was detained in a military camp, which is not of civilian jurisdiction.

Isaias, Acosta’s father, appealed to the DOJ to urgently resolve his petition while he is still confined at the NKTI. “We do not want him to go back to Calbayog for as long as he needs medical attention. We do not want him to return to a hostile environment where the whole military organization in the region, and even the provincial governor, deliberately ignored and actively blocked our requests for much-needed medical attention for my son.”

The campaign to free Ericson Acosta has been sustained for almost two years, gaining widespread local and international support from prominent artist and human rights organizations such as the Amnesty International, PEN International, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, INTAL-Belgium, The International Conference for Progressive Culture-People’s Art Network, BAYAN, SELDA, UP Diliman University Council, Concerned Artists of the Philippines and even members and officials of the state’s National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

In November 2011, Acosta was named finalist of the Imprisoned Artist Prize at the Freedom to Create Awards Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, along with other nominees from Myanmar and Tibet. ###

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Detained poet welcomes DOJ action, supporters to Sec. de Lima: FREE ACOSTA NOW!


ADVISORY:

Supporters of the FREE ERICSON ACOSTA CAMPAIGN will troop to the Department of Justice offices in Padre Faura, Manila, 10:00 am tomorrow (January 24) to push for Ericson Acosta's immediate release.

Photos: Artists visit Ericson Acosta at the NKTI


with National Artist for Literature and Philippine Center of International PEN Chairperson BIENVENIDO LUMBERA and PAO Chief PERSIDA V. RUEDA-ACOSTA




with rap artist BLKD



with First Quarter Storm activists 
Prof. JUDY TAGUIWALO, 
poet and songwriter JESS SANTIAGO, 
and screenwriter and actor 
BONIFACIO ILAGAN.


with social realist painter 
and former UP College of Fine Arts
Dean LEONILO DOLORICON

with stage and TV actor 
and Tanghalang Pilipino executive NANDING JOSEF 





with painters Johnny Manajo 
and Mideo Cruz















with actor and screenwriter 
BIBETH ORTEZA










Read the Philippine Daily Inquirer story : Finally, DOJ takes notice of poet-activist’s plea



Detained poet Ericson Acosta today welcomed DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima’s directive for the “immediate disposition” of the petition for review of his case.

The Justice chief promised immediate action in response to Acosta’s personal letter inviting her to a dialogue.

Until last Friday, Acosta has been detained at the Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail while his petition for review at the DOJ has been pending for more than a year. Acosta was recently granted temporary release by the Gandara RTC in Samar on humanitarian grounds. He is currently confined at the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City while undergoing tests and treatment for a kidney ailment.

"I welcome Sec. Leila de Lima's directive. The resolution of my petition for review is awaited not only by myself but by my family, friends and supporters all over the world. My invitation to a dialogue with her still stands," Acosta said.

Acosta also thanked his supporters for their sustained campaigning and vigilance. “This latest development in my legal case is mainly due to the untiring support of my supporters. If not for them, the DOJ would not have taken notice.”

He also thanked his supporters for their alertness amid attempts by his BJMP guards to employ irrational and repressive measures during his confinement at the NKTI. Yesterday, his BJMP guards threatened to handcuff him to his bed but were stopped by quick action from his supporters and legal counsels.

According to the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign, the BJMP’s failure to further repress Acosta and terrorize visitors was an “initial victory”. “Still, the BJMP remains overzealous in restricting his privacy and rights. Visitors confirmed that the armed guards are the same ones that guarded Morong 43. These are not mere guards but professional bullies, our vigilance must be increased tenfold,” the group said.

The FEAC called on the DOJ to also immediately address and set parameters on the BJMP’s role at the NKTI. “They are tasked to guard and secure Acosta but they are the ones posing a threat to his security.”

Yesterday, at 6:00 in the afternoon, a certain Dr. Col. Mundin who introduced himself as a doctor of the BJMP unceremoniously barged into Acosta’s room and started asking about his medical condition. He was accompanied by two BJMP guards. He then showed a document and informed Acosta and his companions that other members of the “BJMP Health Team” are set to “do a series of tests” on him. Mundin again attempted to enter Acosta’s room today but was stopped by NKTI security.

“The BJMP has no business meddling into Acosta’s medical procedures. We expect the DOJ to put the BJMP in its place. The added stress and obvious ploys to harass him will only aggravate Acosta’s medical condition,” the FEAC said.

The FEAC, led by various artists, cultural workers and supporters, will stage a picket-rally at the DOJ tomorrow to call for the dismissal of Acosta’s case. ###

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ericson Acosta seeks dialogue with DOJ, supporters urge Sec. de Lima to free detained poet


MEDIA ADVISORY:


Lone jail officer flying back to Samar, court orders Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to take over political detainee Ericson Acosta's custody at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.
Around 10 fully-armed personnel of the BJMP will return to Ericson Acosta's hospital room  11 am today to implement court order. Col. Joseph Vela informed  Ericson Acosta yesterday that he must be handcuffed to the hospital bed, visitors and personal companions will also not be allowed to use cellular phones, etc.
Acosta's supporters say there is no need for overkill security measures. Artists and supporters continue to visit detained cultural worker Ericson Acosta -- expected visitors today include actor Bibeth Orteza and painters' groups led by Mideo Cruz. 


MEDIA COVERAGE REQUESTED. WITH PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES. 




PRESS RELEASE: January 22, 2013


Reference:  Ericson Acosta, (confined at the NKTI)

Atty. Jun Oliva, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) 09157707067



Ericson Acosta seeks dialogue with DOJ,

supporters urge Sec. de Lima to free detained poet  



While undergoing medical treatment at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), political prisoner Ericson Acosta has asked for a dialogue with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to seek the immediate resolution of his case.



Acosta, 40, a poet, songwriter and former editor of the UP Philippine Collegian, was arrested by the mlitary in San Jorge, Samar , February 13, 2011. He was interrogated and tortured inside a military camp for three days before a trumped-up charge of illegal possession of explosive was filed against him to justify his arrest and detention.



Acosta was granted temporary freedom by the local court in Samar for him to undergo medical treatment for his renal problems.  After 23 months at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail, Acosta went straight to the NKTI for treatment last Friday, January 18.  He was flown to Manila through the assistance of Atty. Persida Rueda-Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).



“I was arrested without warrant by the military, tortured, tagged a terrorist and criminal, incarcerated for 23 long months – left to suffer while waiting for your good office to carry out a favorable resolution to the Petition for Review we filed in September 2011.”



“Why exactly is this resolution still pending?” read Acosta’s one-page letter to the Justice Secretary.



The campaign to free Ericson Acosta has been sustained for almost two years, gaining widespread local and international support from prominent artist and human rights organizations such as the Amnesty International, PEN International, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, INTAL-Belgium, The International Conference for Progressive Culture-People’s Art Network, BAYAN,SELDA, UP Diliman University Council, Concerned Artists of the Philippines and even members and officials of the state’s National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).  In November 2011, Acosta was named finalist of the Imprisoned Artist Prize at the Freedom to Create Awards Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, along with other nominees from Myanmar and Tibet.



Acosta’s family and supporters are currently raising funds to shoulder costs of his hospitalization,  including expenses for  a scheduled operation to remove kidney stones,  and medicine.



Overkill Security Arrangement



Yesterday, around 10 armed personnel from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) arrived at Acosta’s hospital room and introduced themselves to be his new security detail. BJMP personnel will replace the lone jail officer from the Calbayog sub-provincial jail, who will be flying back to Samar tomorrow. Acosta’s visitors and friends expressed disappointment with the new rules including Acosta being handcuffed in bed, and not allowing his family or  paralegal companions to use cellular phones. 



“Ericson was temporarily released on humanitarian grounds. He stayed here for four days with only one security escort and there have been no problems with him entertaining dozens of visitors and supporters every day. He is not a criminal. The last thing he needs is an overkill of simple security arrangements, ” said UP Art Studies Prof. Roselle Pineda who was visiting Ericson when armed BJMP personnel arrived at the NKTI last night.   



“We hope that Sec. de Lima considers Ericson’s request so that she can see for herself what kind of person this government has wrongly imprisoned. Ericson should not be tied down anymore because he clearly does not want to escape justice. Ericson Acosta in fact is just waiting for justice to finally prevail, ” Pineda said.