Friday, October 26, 2012

Family of political prisoner decries threat, harassment

Troops from the 8th Infantry Battalion are deployed within a civilian facility -- the Calbayog sub-provincial jail where political prisoner Ericson Acosta is detained for more than a year now.

Father asks President Aquino: “Who will be held responsible if something bad happens to my son while he is unjustly detained?”

The family of political prisoner Ericson Acosta decried threats against their son and their family after receiving text messages which said he or his parents might get killed on November 2, All Souls Day.

Isaias Acosta, 79, father of Ericson, said his driver received a series of messages in the morning of October 24 and 25. The first message read: “ericson acosta is in danger he might get killed on all souls day please spread the news.”

This was followed by a Filipino translation of the first message:  “please spread the news ericson acosta plano patayin sa araw ng patay. kung ndi man siya ay ang kanyang magulang n nktra sa anapolis cubao... Anonymous UST...”  

Ericson Acosta, 40, is a poet and journalist who was arrested without warrant on February 13, 2011 in San Jorge, Samar. Military elements accosted him for mere possession of a laptop.  After three days of interrogation and torture inside a military camp, Acosta was charged with illegal possession of explosive and was tagged by the military as a high-ranking NPA rebel.

Wala kaming kaaway. Matatanda na kami. Marami na kaming sakit. Mag- ootsenta anyos na ang asawa ko ngayong Linggo. Magbi-birthday siya na nakakulong pa rin ang aming bunso. Ito pa ba ang ireregalo nila sa kanya? (We have no known enemies. We are too old. We have many illnesses. My wife is turning 80 this Sunday. She will mark her birthday with our youngest son still behind bars. Is this their idea of a birthday present?”

According to Acosta, they can only suspect these threats to come from state agents. “Ericson is the lone political prisoner (at the sub-provincial jail in Calbayog City), yet the military has deployed troops around the jail to harass him and his visitors. The jail is supposed to be a civilian facility, yet Ericson has been virtually under military detention.”

The elder Acosta is equally disheartened about President Aquino’s rash statements on the country’s human rights situation. In recent interviews, human rights violations were dismissed by the President as “only Leftist propaganda.”

Lamenting the President’s recent pronouncements, Isaias said, “My son is a victim of torture and prolonged illegal detention. Our petition for review before the DOJ (Department of Justice) has been pending for more than a year now, when it should only take 60 days for them to issue a resolution.”

“Last July, we filed a motion for Ericson to be accorded immediate medical attention for his renal problems. After three months, the court has not acted upon the motion. Private doctors have silently turned down our requests to check on Ericson -- we understand their fears because Ericson is surrounded by soldiers. In his latest letter, Ericson said he had another high fever last week. Instead of justice, we now receive more insults and threats.”

“Bakit naghahamon ng tulong ang Presidente para maresolba ang mga kaso ng pang-aabuso, gayong nasa kanya na nga ang lahat ng kapangyarihan? (Why must the President challenge people to help him solve these cases of abuses, when he has all the power to do this?)” he asked.

“Gusto ko pong tanungin ang Pangulo: sino po ang magiging responsable kapag may masamang nangyari sa anak ko habang siya’y nakakulong at hindi gumugulong ang hustisya? ( I would like to ask the President: who will be held responsible if something bad happens to my son while he is unjustly detained?)”said Mr. Acosta. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

November 15 is International Day of the Imprisoned Writer

The Day of the Imprisoned Writer is an annual, international day intended to recognize and support writers who resist repression of the basic human right to freedom of expression and who stand up to attacks made against their right to impart information.

Ericson Acosta is a Filipino poet, journalist, and songwriter who was arrested without warrant on February 13, 2011 in Samar. Military elements

accosted him for mere possession of a laptop. To this day, Ericson remains imprisoned. He and his family continue to suffer various forms of harassment.

Ericson Acosta is only one of more than 400 political prisoners under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

We enjoin all writers, writers' groups, circles and publications to share their advocacy for freedom by composing a piece for the freedom of Ericson Acosta. Put together, our appeals, statements, poems, and other contributions will demonstrate the strength of the worldwide solidarity for the freedom of the imprisoned writer on November 15, 2012. Please spread the word!

Click here for the PEN International appeal for Ericson Acosta's release: and the Philippine PEN resolution to support the campaign to free Ericson Acosta:

Please send copies of your appeals to

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Free Ericson Acosta

by Butch Dalisay 
PENMAN, Philippine Star

Last Monday, I wrote about recalling the horrors of martial law, which had been declared 40 years earlier. That same day, I had a chance encounter with a young woman named Kerima Tariman Acosta, whose husband Ericson has now been languishing in a Samar jail for a year  a political prisoner under a new regime four decades after martial law.

My interest in the case was piqued not just because of the obvious irony, but because Ericson was a former editor of the Philippine Collegian and a poet  in other words, a brother-in-arms as a writer.

Ericson was arrested on Feb. 13, 2011 by soldiers of the Philippine Army near San Jorge in Samar, without a warrant; Kerima says that he was carrying only his laptop, a cellphone, and some money, having been conducting human rights research in that militarized community on behalf of a peasant group, Kapawa. Later, however, his captors produced a grenade, which they claimed Ericson had in his pocket; they would later charge him with illegal possession of explosives, which Ericson vehemently denies, saying that the grenade was planted to link him to the New People’s Army.

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