Monday, December 12, 2011

Isang Minutong Katahimikan

"Isang Minutong Katahimikan" is a song on impunity and extra-judicial killings written by artist and political detainee Ericson Acosta. Performed by human rights lawyer and musician Pochoy Labog (of Dicta License/Malay) and BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes, Jr.

A political prisoner's life and struggles inside prison

While weak from the effects of the hunger strike, political prisoner Ericson Acosta relates how he adjusted to life in prison, the difficulties being faced by his co-inmates who come from families of peasants and workers, and the struggles of political prisoners under an administration that remains deaf , mute, and blind to their situation.


CALBAYOG CITY, Western Samar – Poet-musician Ericson Acosta asked his eight-year-old son Emannuel what the young boy thought about his incarceration. Instead of a direct answer, Eman said: “Isn’t it that Jose Rizal was also imprisoned?”

“Good,” Acosta said. That was his son’s first visit at the Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail weeks after Acosta was arrested on February 13 in Bgy. Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar by elements of the 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army. The military publicly branded him as a high-ranking officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in the province and was charged with illegal possession of explosives. It has been almost ten months since. In the days that followed, Eman joined fund-raising activities for the campaign for the release of his father and other political prisoners.

“One time, he distributed Free Ericson Acosta pins to his classmates. When one asked what it was all about, he joked ‘Free. It’s for free.’ Seriously, he even seems proud,” Acosta told in an interview inside prison, Dec. 7.

“On his second visit, he played the guitar and sang the songs I wrote,” Acosta said, his eyes shining. The guitar was his birthday gift. “I was told before that he was not using it so I was really surprised when he played it.”

Despite not having eaten anything for the past five days, Acosta’s mind remains lucid. Rehydration fluids have been keeping whatever physical energy is left of him. Visits, letters and support from friends sustain his spirit.

“I have difficulty sleeping. I’m feeling groggy,” Acosta said. He began his hunger strike Dec. 3 and will continue until the eve of Dec. 10, the International Human Rights Day.

“When I rose up from my bed last night, I told my co- inmates, ‘Earthquake!’ They told me, ‘No! That is just hunger.” There are nine other detainees in his cell.

Unlike most detention facilities, the provincial jail is not overcrowded. The designated receiving area is itself a detention cell for women detainees.

There are no multiple-deck beds. Acosta sleeps on a big wooden bed he shares with the other prisoners. In other cells, some prisoners have to sleep on the floor due to lack of facilities.

Food is okay but not enough, said Acosta, with only P20 budget for meals of each prisoner. They are given uncooked rice which they themselves cook. They usually have fish but they rarely have vegetables. “Those who have visitors receive additional supply. Those who are not visited by relatives are most unfortunate. They sell their ration of rice to buy coffee and other personal needs,” Acosta said.

“Sometimes, I feel the embarrassment of the rich. I share whatever is given me to other inmates,” Acosta, who has the most visits, said.

Acosta also shares his thoughts to other inmates. It has been their morning habit to discuss the evening’s news, sharing their views on issues. “Most of them resemble persons I know,” he said. Having been a peasant organizer for years, Acosta instinctively discussed problems in society and the cause he is fighting for. Most of the detainees are farmers and workers.

Sometimes, he is requested by his inmates to explain some legal documents. “I would read it aloud. And I’d say, ‘Oh! According to this, you killed this fellow.’ We all laughed,” Acosta, the performer, said.

He drafted the letter of one prisoner who had served his sentence asking for his release. “The poor man’s wife is sick and they have ten children,” said Acosta.

It took time before Acosta adjusted to this new chapter of his life. The first months, he was so angry.

After his arrest, he was subjected to torture and interrogation. For days, he was never allowed to contact his family. When he was finally brought to the court, closely guarded by the soldiers who took him, Acosta never wasted the opportunity to speak. “The colonel then offered his cellular phone. I grabbed it and called my mother. In the middle of our conversation, the colonel took his phone.”

When he was sent to the provincial jail, a platoon of soldiers from the 87th Infantry Battalion camped out beside the detention facility. “They justified their presence by saying they have operations in the area.”

During the first hearing of his case, the soldiers, in camouflage and carrying long firearms, escorted him to the court. Later, the platoon was replaced by a squad from 14th Infantry Battalion.

“I would yell at the soldiers who would go inside the jail to take a peek at me as if I were Lolong the crocodile,” he said. “I asked him, ‘Are you watching over me?’ The soldier said, ‘Why? Are you an artist?”

Later, the jail authorities themselves prevented the soldiers in full battle gear from going inside the jail.

Just last month, while Acosta was talking with Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and other visitors, two soldiers peeked through the wide window, listening to the conversations. He confronted the soldiers and asked them to go away.

He has learned to temper his anger. On Sept. 21, the schedule of his supposed arraignment, soldiers brandishing long firearms, joined him inside the vehicle. “I controlled my anger. I talked to them, telling them not to follow orders, which violate human rights, from their higher-ups. Some nodded, many others just kept their heads bowed. They probably did not even know me and were just told to follow orders.”

It took time, too, before he became accustomed to speaking in public. “For years, I tried hard to be anonymous. Now, I have to grant interviews,” he said. Acosta said that in the many years of his organizing among the peasants, he did not divulge his identity.

On his first months in detention, Acosta, as a writer, said he suffered not from mental block but from what he called writer’s burst. “I would just write down all my thoughts,” he said, admitting his notes were often without coherence or were incomplete.

“My wife did a good thing. She sent me a copy of Alan Jazmines’s prison diary. If the old man can write, given the tighter security and worse conditions there, I could to and I must write again,” Acosta said. Jazmines is a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) arrested in February and now detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

These past few months, the poet has gone back. His poems posted at the blog his friends put up.

Acosta, the singer, is also alive. His long-time friend, Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), visited him several times. He would sing when Reyes played the guitar. Their recorded sessions have been uploaded in social media networks. Other visitors, especially the youth, would also jam with Acosta. Most of the songs he wrote during his days at the Alay Sining, a cultural group in the University of the Philippines, were never recorded before. The songs are being passed on nevertheless from one generation of activists to another.

“It’s a different struggle here,” Acosta said.

He talked about other political prisoners that he knew such as Eduardo Sarmiento and Randy Malayao, asking about their conditions. He said he and Malayao had planned to sing together before the latter left Manila several years ago. Malayao, NDFP consultant, whom Acosta met during his college days, is now detained at the Ilagan Provincial Jail in Isabela.

Like Acosta, hundreds of political prisoners are staging a hunger strike. He noted the silence of President Benigno S. Aquino III on the call to release all political prisoners. This month’s strike is their third coordinated protest action since Aquino assumed the presidency. The first was in July, before Aquino’s second State of the Nation Address. Before the anniversary of martial law, political prisoners and their families also went on fasting. Except for Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s statement denying the existence of political prisoners, nothing has been heard from Malacanang.

Even as he concedes to the fact that domestic laws have no definition of political prisoners, Acosta said legislation is not necessary for the executive to declare a general, unconditional amnesty to political prisoners.

He said the Hernandez political doctrine and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the historical experience of the country especially during martial law, as well as documents from human rights groups and even the United Nations on political prisoners, can be used as a starting point.

“The problem is that he is not listening,” Acosta said, referring to Aquino.

He said the amnesty given by Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, to political prisoners who fought the Marcos dictatorship was not “a declaration from a benevolent leader but a response to the pressure of the mass movement.”

Even inside prison, Acosta and other political detainees continue to exert pressure on the Aquino administration.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anakpawis Rep. Mariano Speech on Human Rights

Congressman Rafael V. Mariano of Anakpawis Party-list mentions his visit to detained poet Ericson Acosta in his privilege speech yesterday, December 6, 2011, at the House of Representatives:

"From July 2010, ilegally arrested, detained and slapped with trumped-up charges were Elizar Nabas, member of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Escalante, Negros, and Ericson Acosta, cultural worker and researcher of KMP-Western Visayas.

Ericson Acosta is currently detained at the Calbayog sub-regional (sic) jail. He was arrested February 13, 2011 while conducting human rights research on the situation of farmer victims of militarization for Kapunungan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Weste han Samar (KAPAWA – Small Peasants Association of Western Samar) and the Alliance of Concerned Samarenos (ACOS). He was levied with charges of illegal possession of explosives, was suspected to be a high-ranking official of the NPA, and was at illegally detained.

Mr. Speaker, I had the chance to visit Ericson Acosta in Calbayog City last month and I saw firsthand how military men have stationed around the jail compound; listening in to our conversations was a soldier armed with an M16 rifle. Last December 3, Acosta started to go on a hunger strike to demand his freedom."

"Mula Hulyo 2010, ilegal na inaresto, ikinulong at sinampahan ng mga gawa-gawang kaso si Elizar Nabas, kasapi ng National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) sa Escalante, Negros, si Ericson Acosta, manggagawang pangkultura at researcher ng KMP-Western Visayas,

Nakapiit sa Calbayog Sub-regional Jail si Ericson Acosta. Hinuli siya noong Pebrero 13, 2011 habang nagsasagawa ng isang human rights research sa kalagayan ng mga magsasakang biktima ng militarisasyon para sa Kapunungan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Weste han Samar (KAPAWA – Small Peasants Association of Western Samar) at Alliance of Concerned Samarenos (ACOS). Sinampahan siya ng kasong ilegal possession of explosives, pinagbintangang isang high-ranking official umano ng NPA at ilegal na ikinulong.

G. Speaker, nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataong madalaw si Ericson Acosta sa Calbayog City nitong nakaraang buwan at nakita ko mismo kung paano pagkampuhan ng mga militar ang paligid ng jail compound at habang kami ay nag-uusap ay may nakikinig na sundalong may bitbit na M-16. Nitong Disyembre 3, sinimulan ni Acosta ang kanyang hunger strike upang igiit ang kanyang kalayaan."

Kalagayan ng Karapatang Pantao

sa ilalim ng gobyernong Aquino

Privilege Speech

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael V. Mariano

December 6, 2011, 4:30 p.m. (As delivered)

G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, magpapahayag ako kaugnay sa kalagayan ng karapatang pantao ng mga magsasaka at iba pang sektor ng masang Anakpawis dahil sa Disyembre 10, ipagdiriwang ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Karapatang Pantao o ika 63-taon ng Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day.

G. Speaker, naging marahas at madugo para sa mga magsasaka ang nagdaang administrasyong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at hanggang sa ngayon, wala pa ring hustisya para sa mga biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao – mga karapatang sibil, pulitikal, karapatan sa kabuhayan, panlipunan at pangkultura.

G. Speaker, nagaganap sa kanayunan ang mga pinakamalalalang kaso ng pang-aabuso at paglabag sa karapatang pantao dahil naroon ang pinakamalakas na paglaban ng mamamayan kontra sa kahirapan, kawalang hustisya at mapang-aping kaayusan ng lipunan.

Mula 2001 hanggang Disyembre 2010, mahigit sa isanlibo at dalawandaan (1,200) ang naisadokumentong kaso ng extra-judicial killings o pagpaslang, mahigit kalahati o limandaan at walumpu (580) sa bilang na ito ng mga pinaslang ay mga magsasaka. Isandaan at tatlumpu (133) dito ay mga lider, kasapi at tagasuporta ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), isang militanteng pambansang organisasyon ng mga magsasaka, kung saan ang inyong lingkod ang siya ring tumatayong Tagapangulo nito.

G. Speaker, samantala, ang bilang ng mga biktima ng enforced disappearances o sapilitang pagkawala ay umabot sa kabuuang dalawandaan at anim (206), at isandaan at tatlumput-isa (131) dito ay mga magsasaka, labinlima (15) sa kanila ay mga lider at kasapi ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, walang ipinag-iba ang sitwasyon ng karapatang pantao sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang administrasyon sa nakaraang rekord ng malalang pag-abuso sa karapatang pantao sa ilalim ng rehimen noon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Kagalang-galang na Speaker, ayon sa pinakahuling ulat ng KARAPATAN o Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights sa kanilang 2011 Human Rights Report nito, mula Hulyo 2010 hanggang Oktubre ngayon taon, mayroong animnapu't-apat (64) na biktima ng extra judicial killings at siyam (9) na biktima ng enforced disappearances. Tinatayang isa kada linggo ang naging biktima ng pagpaslang.

Sa bilang na ito, halos apatnapung (40) porsyento o pinakamarami ang bilang ng mga magsasakang pinaslang at biktima ng sapilitang pagkawala. Sa loob ng labing-anim na buwan mula nang maupo sa pwesto si Pangulong Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, may dalawamput-walong (28) magsasaka na ang pinaslang ng mga pinaghihinalaang elemento ng militar. Sumunod sa bilang ng mga pinakamaraming pinaslang ang mga katutubo na ang pangunahing ikinabubuhay rin ay pagsasaka o iba pang produktibong aktibidad nila.

G. Speaker, pinakahuling biktima ay si Boboy Pajanustan, isang magsasaka at kasapi ng Anakpawis Partylist mula sa Brgy. San Miguel, Las Navas, Northern Samar na pinaslang noong Nobyembre 25, 2011.

Ilan pa sa mga biktima sina Rudy at Rudyric Dejos, mag-amang magsasaka mula sa Davao del Sur na kasapi ng Zone 1 Farmers Association, affiliate ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, si Santos Manrique, kasapi ng Anakpawis at lider magsasaka na aktibong tumututol sa pagpasok ng mga dayuhang minahan sa Pantukan, Compostela Valley. Pinaslang siya sa harap ng kanyang asawa at anim na taong gulang na apo. Si Ramon Batoy ay isang lider magsasaka sa Arakan Valley na pinaslang ilang araw matapos ring patayin ng mga di pa nakikilalang salarin si Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio na coordinator ng Rural Missionaries of the Philippines o RMP na aktibong tagasuporta rin ng mga magsasaka at lumad sa South Cotabato.

Mr. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, nitong Nobyembre 18, 2011, tinanggang dukutin ng mga elemento ng 703rd at 704th Combat Group ng Philippine Air Force si Isabelo Alicaya, lider ng Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT). Habang ang mga mangingisda at magsasaka sa Aurora na tumututol sa Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Free Port Authority (APECO) ay nakakaranas din ng pandarahas ng mga elemento ng 48th Infantry Battalion, Bravo Company.

G. Speaker, sa mahabang talaan ng mga kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa ilalim ng gobyernong Aquino, matingkad ang mga kaso ng pagtortyur, sapilitang pag-aresto, ilegal na pagkulong, walang pakundangang pamamaril, sapilitang pagpapalikas sa mga komunidad sa kanayunan, demolisyon sa mga maralita at pagbabawal sa mga protesta at welga.

Maraming kaso ng pagtortyur at harasment sa mga magsasaka na pinaghihinalaang kasapi ng New Peoples Army (NPA) ang nagaganap sa mga operasyon ng militar sa kanayunan ngunit hindi naibabalita. Patuloy rin ang panggigipit sa mga magsasaka lalo na sa mga lugar na may agrarian dispute o sigalot sa lupa. Gaya ng mga kaso sa mga sumusunod:

  • Sa Central Mindanao University, pinaulanan ng bala ang mga magsasakang kasapi ng BUFFALO, LIMUS at TAMARAW na nagtayo ng kampuhan upang igiit ang kanilang karapatan sa lupa. Tatlong magsasaka ang malubhang nasugatan sa insidente.
  • Sa Aloguinsan, Cebu, binuwag ang kampuhan ng mga kasapi ng San Roque Farmers Association at ilegal na ikinulong ang may 39 magsasaka at kanilang mga tagasuporta. Pinalaya sila makaraang magpyansa noong Setyembre 2, 2011.
  • Sa Guimba, Nueva Ecija, inaresto at ikinulong si Florentino Pagatpatan, kasapi ng MAMBAYU nang magsaka siya sa lupaing inaangkin ng Listasaka na binuo ng Department of Agrarian Reform.
  • Sa Hacienda Luisita, sa mismong asyenda ng mga kaanak ni Pangulong Aquino, matindi ang militarisasyon sa mga barangay laluna sa Bgy. Balete kung saan nakatira ang mga aktibong lider at kasapi ng AMBALA at ULWU. Nitong Setyembre 2011, sinampahan ng “Occupation of Real Property and Grave Coercion” sina Lito Bais at dalawampung (20) iba pang lider magsasaka at manggagawang bukid sa Hacienda Luisita.
  • Sa South Cotabato, patuloy ang militarisasyon sa erya ng Dole Philippines at sa mga plantasyon ng sagingan.

G. Speaker, marami pang porma ng pang-aabuso ang sinasabing ginagawa ng mga elemento ng militar sa kanayunan. Kabilang dito ang pagsesensus, paglulunsad ng mga “peace and development forum” kung saan pinagbibintangan ang mga magsasaka na kasapi o kaya'y tagasuporta ng NPA.

May mga programa rin ang gobyerno, partikular ang militar na nagpapasahol pa sa pang-aabuso sa mga karapatang pantao ng mamamayan. Nariyan ang Oplan Bayanihan na nakapadron sa Counter Insurgency Guide of 2009 ng Estados Unidos. Kung saan nagtapos ang Oplan Bantay Laya 1 at 2 ng nagdaang administrasyong Arroyo, doon naman nagpatuloy ang Oplan Bayanihan ni Pangulong Aquino.

Sa ilalim ng Oplan Bayanihan, ang mga mamamayan at sektor na kumikilos upang ilantad at labanan ang mga di-makamamamayang programa ng gobyerno at dayuhan ang siyang target ng 'neutralization' ng militar. Kinukumbina ng Oplan Bayanihan ang mga operasyong pang-kombat at mga aksyong sosyo-sibiko. Nariyan din ang paggamit sa mga grupong para-militar gaya ng CAFGU at RPA-ABB upang dahasin ang mga magsasaka at katutubo.

G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, kasabay ng matinding militarisasyon sa kanayunan, ipinapatupad ang mga mapanlinlang na programa gaya ng “Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan Program” o PAMANA na ginagamit ng gobyerno bilang pantugon umano sa ugat ng krisis at suliranin sa kapayapaan. Mismong ang Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) ang naglaan ng pondong P17.623 milyon para sa mga ‘areas of conflict’ sa North Cotabato, Compostela Valley at Western Samar – mga lugar kung saan may mga malalaking kaso ng sigalot sa lupa dahil sa malawakang pangangamkam, land-use conversion at iba pang usapin ng mga magsasaka.

G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, bagamat, nagbubulag-bulagan at itinatanggi ng Malakanyang ang pagkakaroon ng mga bilanggong pulitikal sa Pilipinas, patuloy na dumarami ang bilang ng mga nakukulong dahil sa kanilang pampulitikang gawain, paniniwala at aspirasyon.

Sa ngayon, mayroong mahigit tatlong daan at limampu't-anim (356) na bilanggong pulitikal sa bansa, pitumpu't walo (78) dito ang inaresto sa panahon ni P-Noy. May 35 dito ay mga kababaihan at 13 ay mga konsultant sa usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) at ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Mula Hulyo 2010, ilegal na inaresto, ikinulong at sinampahan ng mga gawa-gawang kaso si Elizar Nabas, kasapi ng National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) sa Escalante, Negros, si Ericson Acosta, manggagawang pangkultura at researcher ng KMP-Western Visayas,

Nakapiit sa Calbayog Sub-regional Jail si Ericson Acosta. Hinuli siya noong Pebrero 13, 2011 habang nagsasagawa ng isang human rights research sa kalagayan ng mga magsasakang biktima ng militarisasyon para sa Kapunungan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Weste han Samar (KAPAWA – Small Peasants Association of Western Samar) at Alliance of Concerned Samarenos (ACOS). Sinampahan siya ng kasong ilegal possession of explosives, pinagbintangang isang high-ranking official umano ng NPA at ilegal na ikinulong.

G. Speaker, nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataong madalaw si Ericson Acosta sa Calbayog City nitong nakaraang buwan at nakita ko mismo kung paano pagkampuhan ng mga militar ang paligid ng jail compound at habang kami ay nag-uusap ay may nakikinig na sundalong may bitbit na M-16. Nitong Disyembre 3, sinimulan ni Acosta ang kanyang hunger strike upang igiit ang kanyang kalayaan.

Samantala, G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, sina Felicidad Caparal, staff ng Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), at mga aktibistang sina Maritess Cosinas at Roque Dujenas ay ilang taon nang nakapiit sa Northern Samar Provincial Jail sa idinagang kasong double murder at attempted murder na isinampa ng 20th Infantry Battalion ng Philippine Army. Matagal nang napawalang sala ang pangunahing akusado sa nasabing kaso subalit patuloy pa rin silang nakakulong nang walang sapat na ebidensya.

G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, nananatiling nakakakulong si Dario Tomada, tagapangulo ng Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas-SAGUPA-Eastern Visayas. Dahil sa mga banta sa kanyang buhay at sa kanyang pamilya, umalis sa Leyte si Dario Tomada at nagtrabaho dito sa Luzon subalit noong Hulyo 22, 2010, hinuli siya ng mga hinihinalang elemento ng Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) sa gawa-gawang kasong 15 counts of murder na naganap daw sa Leyte noong 1984. Nakakulong pa rin ang Lumban 3 na sina Darwin Liwag, lider ng Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) kasama sina Rey Malaborbor at Aries Suazo. Nakapiit pa rin sa Batangas ang Talisay 3 na sina Charity Dino, Billy Batrina at Sonny Rogelio, mga organisador ng Samahan ng mga Mangingisda sa Batangas (SAMBAT). Nakakulong pa rin ang Antipolo 4, Cadiz 4, Quirante 2, Guihulngan 2 at Buenavista 5 at marami pang mga magsasakang bilanggong pulitikal.

Iginigiit ng Kinatawang ito, G. Speaker, ang pangangailangang kagyat na mabigyan ng General, Unconditional at Omnibus Amnesty o agarang pagpapalaya ang lahat ng bilanggo at detenidong pulitikal.

G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, ilan lamang ito sa mga malalalang kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao.

Maging ang iba pang sektor ng Anakpawis ay nakakaranas ng panunupil at panggigipit. Maraming mga manggagawa rin ang biktima ng extra-judicial killings, harassment, ilegal na pag-aresto at pagkulong. Patuloy ang pag-kriminalisa sa mga sigalot sa paggawa o labor dispute lalo na sa mga lider unyon at manggagawang lumalaban sa mga unfair labor practices na isinasagawa ng kanilang mga employer.

Sa labing anim na buwan ng administrasyong Aquino, naganap ang mga pinakamararahas na pagbuwag sa komunidad ng maralita – sa Barangay San Roque sa Quezon City, sa Laperal Compound sa Makati, sa Barangay Corazon de Jesus sa San Juan City, sa Sitio San Fatima sa Paranaque City, sa Buhangin District sa Davao City at kamakailan lang sa BIR Road na sakop ng North Triangle sa Quezon City.

G. Speaker, mga kapwa ko Kinatawan, marami nang resolusyon ang inyong lingkod na inihapag sa House Committee on Human Rights kaugnay sa imbestigasyon sa mga kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa hanay ng mga magsasaka, subalit hanggang ngayon, matatapos na po ang taon, wala pa rin ni isa ang nadidinig.

Higit sa lahat G. Speaker, wala pa ring katarungan sa mga biktima ng Mendiola at Hacienda Luisita Masaker na direktang nauugnay sa pamilya ni Pangulong Aquino -- sa pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino. Sa halip na bigyang katarungan ang pagkamatay ng mga magsasakang nakipaglaban para sa kanilang karapatan sa lupa, pinipigilan pa ng mga Cojuangco-Aquino ang libreng pamamahagi ng lupa sa mga manggagawa at manggagawang bukid sa Hacienda Luisita.

Sa Disyembre 10, 2011, muling dadagsa sa mga lansangan ang mamamayan at tagapagtaguyod ng karapatang pantao upang igiit ang katarungan, pagwawakas sa kawalang pagpapanagot o impunity, ang pagkakamit ng tunay at pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa ating bayan sa pamamagitan ng pagreresolba at pagpawi sa mga ugat ng suliranin at kawalang kapanatagan sa ating lipunan.

Igalang at itaguyod ang karapatang pantao!

Maraming salamat at magandang hapon. ###






The Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) will join CampoutPH which starts in Mendiola today.

TODAY IS THE THIRD DAY OF DETAINED ARTIST ERICSON ACOSTA'S HUNGER STRIKE. The Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) today received this update from one of its convenors, Renato Reyes Jr. of BAYAN:

"Just came from Calbayog court. The prosecution wants Ericson transferred to the Catbalogan Jail (near the headquarters of the AFP's 8th Infantry Division), even if all his hearings will be in Calbayog. They fear that Ericson will be rescued by the NPA if he stays in Calbayog. Jail security is tight. There is an army squad camped out literally outside the window of the prison receiving area where we met. CHR Calbayog says it will look into the AFP detachment beside the jail."

The FEAC demands the pull out of the highly irregular, if not illegal, military deployment at the Samar sub-provincial jail in Calbayog, a civilian detention facility. According to Acosta, a platoon of soldiers from the 87th IB were first deployed in the nearby barrio since July in the pretext of military operations. Today, a squad from the 14th IB loiters inside the facility’s premises listening in to Acosta's conversations with visitors. The military troops also impose on the guards to show them records of prison visitors.

Acosta says that it is necessary to maintain the civilian nature of the Samar sub-provincial jail. “It is also a challenge for civilian authorities to assert their power over these military ‘invaders.’”

The troop deployment and overkill security arrangement during Acosta’s first court appearance where he was made to ride the jail vehicle as a lone detainee in the midst of soldiers in full battle gear “are symptoms of one affliction." “Fascism is the most dangerous type of paranoia,” Acosta said.

Acosta is scheduled to appear in court on December 8, 2011. His counsel, a group of lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, will once again move to defer proceedings pending the DOJ’s decision on Acosta’s review petition filed last September 1. The motion to transfer custody of the Acosta is also scheduled to be heard, but the NUPL has yet to receive a copy of the motion.

Instead of wasting government and military resources with Acosta's security arrangements, the FEAC reiterates its appeal to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to withdraw fabricated charges of illegal possession of explosives lodged against him, and to effect Acosta’s release from detention immediately.

“Malaki ang aking pag-asang bibigyan aksyon ng DOJ ang kaso ni Ericson. Manalig tayo dito," said playwright Malou Jacob who as Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), personally appeared at the DOJ to support the filing of Acosta’s review petition

“Sawang-sawa na ako sa kalaboso!” Acosta said in support of CampoutPH which will commence today at the Mendiola Bridge in Manila.

Saturday, December 3, 2011



Through your help, we can see to it that Ericson will be reunited with his family and the people he serves.

You may donate through the account:

Isaias Acosta
BDO The Block SM City North branch
Savings Account # 0251065464

For international donations:

Isaias Acosta

BDO The Block SM City North branch
Savings Account: 00-0251065464
Routing #: 021000089
Swiftcode: BNORPHMM

Detained artist Ericson Acosta begins his hunger strike today, December 3, 2011, as part of the campaign to free all political prisoners in the country. Acosta’s hunger strike intends to expose the particular circumstances of his arrest and continued unjust detention.

Acosta’s supporters have called on authorities, particularly the DOJ, to immediately withdraw the fabricated illegal possession of explosive complaint lodged by the military against the poet. Acosta stresses that it utterly baseless for him to undergo a full-blown trial for this trumped-up charge. Instead, he says it is he who should have the right to charge the state elements responsible for violations of his human rights.

One of his particular demands is to pull out the highly irregular if not illegal presence of a squad of military men near his place of detention. A platoon of soldiers from the 87th IB were first deployed in the nearby barrio since July in the pretext of military operations, but it has become apparent that the soldiers are there to “guard” Acosta. Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano in his recent visit to the Calbayog jail directly witnessed how soldiers listen in to Acosta’s conversations with visitors.

It is necessary to maintain the civilian nature of the Samar sub-provincial jail. It is also a challenge for civilian authorities to assert their power over these military “invaders.” This troop deployment, and the overkill security arrangement during Acosta’s first court appearance where he was made to ride the jail vehicle as a lone detainee in the midst of soldiers in full battle gear “(these) are symptoms of one affliction of paranoia named Fascism.”

“Fascism is the most dangerous type of paranoia,” Acosta said.

­ C A S E T I M E L I N E

February 13, 2011 While on his way to San Jorge town from Barangay Bay-ang proper around 10 am, Acosta was arrested without warrant by elements of the 34th IBPA led by 2nd Lt. Jacob Madarang. Acosta was accompanied by a barangay official and was carrying only a laptop and some personal belongings at the time of his arrest. With threats, soldiers instructed Acosta’s companions from the barrio to carry on, as they were only interested with the “Tagalog” whom they suspected of being a high-ranking NPA rebel. Acosta was conducting human rights research in the militarized barrio for Kapunungan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Weste han Samar (KAPAWA – Small Peasants Association of Western Samar) and the Alliance of Concerned Samarenos (ACOS).

Acosta was brought to the 34th IB Charlie detachment in Brgy. Blanca Aurora, San Jorge. They arrive at about 9pm. Acosta was interrogated, coerced and tortured for 44 hours straight with only 2 hours of sleep. He was denied communication to his family as well as access to a lawyer, despite his repeated assertion of his rights. Arresting military officers file a report on Acosta’s arrest on the same day.

February 15 – Around 7pm, Acosta was brought to the PNP Municipal Headquarters in San Jorge. While Acosta was still in the vehicle with military escorts, a grenade was presented by the military to the police. Inside the building, Acosta was later told by police officers that he was being charged with illegal possession of explosive. He was brought to a hospital for medico-legal procedure and was detained overnight at the PNP San Jorge.

February 16 – Police completes the blotter procedure against Acosta. He was brought to the Calbayog Hall of Justice around 9am by military escorts in civilian clothes. Acosta was finally able to call his family when he asserted his rights in front of civilian employees in the building. A complaint of illegal possession of explosive signed by the San Jorge PNP Chief Oscar Pagulayan was directly filed to the Regional Trial Court of Gandara, Samar, Branch 41 at 10:30 am, or seventy two (72) hours and thirty (30) minutes after Acosta’s arrest on February 13, 10 am. Acosta was then remitted to the Calbayog sub-provincial jail around 1:30 pm.

February 17 – The AFP publicizes the capture of a “top ranking CPP personality,” Ericson Acosta aka “August Lim.” The AFP releases state that “..troops recovered from Acosta one (1) laptop notebook with complete accessories and spare battery, an external hard drive, Globe tattoo (USB globe broadband), one (1) unit Nokia 3530, 6 pcs SIM cards, a cash amounting to Four Thousand Eight Hundred pesos (P4, 800.00) only and his personal belongings.” As for the grenade subject of the illegal possession complaint, reports said that “(Acosta) … attempted to draw a hand grenade from his pocket.”

March 1 –The Acting Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Gandara, Samar, Branch 41, Hon. Subanah E. Usman, instead of issuing a Commitment Order, issues an Order referring the case to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, Calbayog City for Preliminary Investigation.

April 11 – Acosta through his counsel, a legal team from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) led by Atty. Jun Oliva, files his counter-affidavit, which states: "a. He was arrested without warrant while not committing any crime or doing anything illegal; b. He was not informed of the reason for his arrest at the time of his arrest; c. He was denied the right to counsel; d. He was denied a phone call and prevented from contacting his family or his lawyer; e. He was subjected to prolonged interrogation for 44 hours; f. During tactical interrogation, he was physically and psychologically tortured; g. He was deprived of sleep, threatened, intimidated, coerced and forced to admit membership in the NPA; h. The grenade subject of the case was planted; i. The complaint against him was filed in court only after 72 hours and 30 minutes; j. He was detained in a military camp, which is not of civilian jurisdiction."

April 15 – The Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) is launched in Quezon City. A statement calling for his immediate release is signed by hundreds of artists, journalists, human rights advocates and other supporters.

June 7 – Acosta receives Prosecutor Agustin Avalon’s resolution dated April 20, recommending the filing of the illegal possession of explosive case in court.

June 21 – NUPL files a motion for reconsideration before the prosecutor.

July – Delegates to the International Conference on Progressive Culture held in the Philippines sign the support statement calling for Acosta’s immediate release. Signatories include prominent artists and cultural groups from the USA, Canada, Asia and Europe. Troops from the 8th ID begin to station near Acosta’s place of detention.

August 12 – Amnesty International calls for the end of Acosta’s detention and cites rights violations.

August 17 – NUPL receives Prosecutor Avalon’s resolution dated July 12, denying the motion for reconsideration.

September 1 – NUPL files a Petition for Review before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

September 21 – Acosta is brought to court for a scheduled arraignment. Court grants his counsel's motion to defer proceedings pending the DOJ’s decision on the review petition. Acosta is again harassed by the military when made to ride the jail vehicle as a lone detainee along with military escorts in full battle gear.

October 14 - The state’s National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) ties up with the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (DOJ), in a gathering of artists calling on the DOJ to promptly review Acosta's case.

November 19 - Acosta is named finalist of 2011 Imprisoned Artist Prize at the Freedom to Create Awards Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, along with filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen of Tibet. Musician Win Maw of Burma wins the Prize.