Monday, February 27, 2012

"Sipat" from Pitong Sundang


"Sipat" based on a poem by Ericson Acosta. Music by Acosta Universe, arranged by Dibayn LeaƱo and JM Diego of Los Indios Bravos for the Sinagbayan dance production of Pitong Sundang staged at the University of the Philippines.





Ikatlong Sundang: SIPAT


Sinisikap nating maya’t maya ay sipatin

kung gaano pa katuwid, pantay at pasulong

ang talim at gulugod ng ating mga sundang.

Itinutok ko ito sa langit isang araw

at tulad ng manunudla ng kalaw o pipit

akin ngang ipinikit ang kaliwa kong mata.

At sa aking asinta ay mayroong tumawid:

mandi’y tutubi— dambuhala at de-makina.

Milyong sundang ang tinunaw nang ito’y hinulma,

sabi ng tao, at ang tae nito ay apoy.



Third Dagger: Perspective



At times we tried to see

how straight, even, and pointed

our dagger’s edge and spine were.

I aimed it at the sky one day

and like the archer of hornbills and sparrows

I shut my left eye.

Then something appeared in my crosshairs:

a dragonfly it seemed—massive and motorized.

A million daggers are melted to make it,

the people said, and its shit is fire.


(Translated by Charlie Veric)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Open Letter in Support of the Immediate Release of Filipino Artist Ericson Acosta - CHRP-UK


As published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer -- "Aquino's Disturbing Indifference"


We at the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines in United Kingdom are deeply concerned with the Philippine government’s seeming lack of interest on reported irregularities and rights abuses in the conduct of the arrest and continued illegal detention of Filipino artist Ericson Acosta.

Acosta was arrested without warrant on 13 February 2011 in San Jorge, Samar. Government soldiers nabbed him in an upland militarized village where Acosta was conducting research on the local human rights and environmental situation in the region. According to Acosta’s counter-affidavit, he stayed in a military camp for three days where he was interrogated and tortured for 44 hours straight. Illegal possession of explosives was charged against him to justify his illegal arrest. He is currently detained at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail where troopers from the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has camped-out within the jail premises, causing sustained harassment and intimidation to Acosta, his family and visitors.

Acosta has made direct complaints and appeals to visiting local officers of the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) in the Eastern Visayas. These PCHR officers bore direct witness to the highly-irregular military deployment within the civilian detention facility. However, the PCHR has failed to make any report public, more so to publicly condemn these rights abuses.

A Petition for Review which cites serious irregularities and rights abuses was filed by Acosta’s counsel, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) before the Philippines’ Department of Justice (PDOJ) in September 2011. 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. However, upon inquiry at the PDOJ, resolution to the said petition is still currently pending. The NUPL has recently filed a motion for the immediate resolution of the review.

No less than the alternate voice of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, spokesperson Edwin Lacierda has told local reporters that “there are no political prisoners” in the Philippines. When asked about government response to the plight of Acosta and some 350 other detainees incarcerated because of their political beliefs, the President’s spokesperson can only offer empty rhetoric. This indifference has brought very real suffering to detainees like Acosta and their families.

We urge concerned Philippine authorities, especially the PDOJ to act without delay on Ericson Acosta’s review petition and effect his immediate release. His rights continue to be violated each day he remains incarcerated. Consequently, reported rights abuses and irregularities must be thoroughly investigated and acted upon.

Indeed, it has become disturbing to observe how a government led by the son of a revered political prisoner and democracy icon could turn a blind eye to the plight of Ericson Acosta and other political detainees in the Philippines.



Rev Canon Barry Naylor
Honorary President – Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP-UK)
Urban Canon and Parish Priest of the Abbey and Holy Spirit Ministries, Leicester

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Statement of People’s Art Network and ICPC on 1st anniversary of detention of artist and political activist Ericson Acosta



February 13, 2012 — Bound by our commitment to people’s rights forged in the International Conference on Progressive Culture (ICPC) held in Manila in July 2011, we join our fellow artists, writers and cultural workers in the Philippines and beyond in their clamour to release Filipino artist Ericson Acosta from unjust detention.

Ericson Acosta was arrested by the Philippine military in Samar province one year ago on February 13, 2011. Ericson is known to his peers at the University of the Philippines as a poet, thespian, singer and journalist. He was an active member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines during its re-establishment in the last decade. He was seized during a visit to Bay-ang in San Jorge, Samar, a highly-militarized village, as a volunteer researcher on human rights and the environment for a local peasant group. Such arrests have become commonplace under the US-inspired Oplan Bayanihan counterinsurgency plan that targets civilians working with the poor and underprivileged.

We admire Acosta’s unwavering commitment to the cause of justice and freedom as an artist and cultural worker. It is this sense of responsibility to people and society that has led him to work in the grassroots and create art with the people.

Even in detention, Ericson Acosta continues to craft poetry and songs highlighting the plight of political prisoners in the country. Online, his prison diary JAILHOUSE BLOG and the PRISON SESSIONS recording of his songs from behind bars have generated interest from listeners and readers around the globe. His work as an artist and activist is recognized by various cultural and human rights groups in the USA, Canada, Asia and Europe.

We urge Philippine authorities to free Ericson Acosta immediately as we reaffirm our pledge to create people’s art and work to shape the society of the future.

The People’s Art Network, which was established following the ICPC, believes that, like Ericson Acosta, artists must go to the grassroots and bring art to our communities, to the people, to our people. Artists must resist curtailment of our freedom of expression, fight for the peoples’ rights and welfare, remember our history and ancestors and continue their struggles for freedom and walk along with our peoples to end injustice in our world.

Oppose attacks on artists and cultural workers, particularly those facing repression, imprisonment and worse due to the link between their art and their involvement in the people’s struggle.

FREE THE ARTIST!

FREE ERICSON ACOSTA!

FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN THE PHILIPPINES!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

News Release: February 13, 2012


Please share, blog, tweet, email this post and sign the online petition for Ericson's immediate release at Change. org

NEWS RELEASE:

February 13, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference: Atty Jun Oliva (NUPL)

(02) 9206660

A year after illegal arrest

Groups clamor for detained poet’s release

NUPL files motion for immediate resolution of Ericson Acosta case before DOJ


A year after the illegal arrest of poet and former UP Collegian editor Ericson Acosta, his family, colleagues, human rights advocates and supporters “demand nothing less than his immediate and unconditional release.”

“Ericson’s sense of responsibility as Iskolar ng Bayan has led him to work in the grassroots and create art with the people. (His) right to participate productively as a free citizen of this country is violated each day he remains in detention,” read a statement released by the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) in a press conference and music jam at the University of the Philippines Palma Hall lobby last Friday, February 10.

The event was organized by the All-UP Academic Employees Union and Acosta’s former colleagues at the university, and was attended by prominent Filipino cultural icons – US-based cultural critic and thinker Prof. Epifanio San Juan, Jr; women’s studies author Delia Aguilar; award-winning scriptwriter and author Ricky Lee; actress, screenwriter and UP Regent Bibeth Orteza; UP College of Mass Communications Dean and popular culture critic Roland Tolentino; and protest songwriter and poet Jess Santiago, among others.

“The illegal arrest and continued unjust detention of cultural worker Ericson Acosta is concrete proof of the existence of political prisoners. There is nothing righteous with having our artists like Acosta suffer in incarceration,” Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) Secretary-General Angie Ipong said in a news release.

Acosta was arrested without warrant by the military on February 13, 2011, in Brgy. Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar just because the laptop he carried roused the suspicion of soldiers. Due to serious irregularities and rights abuses in the conduct of his arrest, his counsel led by Atty. Jun Oliva of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), filed a Petition for Review before the DOJ in September 2011, and moved to defer court proceedings pending resolution of the said petition. Ideally, a review petition should be resolved within 60 days.

“It is important for us to bear witness to the truth of the injustice done to Acosta,” Prof. E. San Juan, Jr. said.

Exactly a year after Acosta’s illegal arrest, the NUPL will today file a motion for the immediate resolution of the Review Petition. Aside from difficulties faced by his family after Acosta’s detention in Samar, they also protest continued military harassment and intimidation by troopers from the 8th ID deployed within the jail facility.
“Instead of settling for a stable, well-paying job, or going abroad like his brothers, our son Ericson chose to teach literacy and work for the oppressed in far-flung provinces. Something is terribly wrong when he is made to suffer a year in prison for doing what he thinks is right,” lamented Acosta’s father Isaias, who is now in his late ‘70s.
Acosta was named finalist of the 2011 Imprisoned Artist Prize at the Freedom to Create Awards Festival in Cape Town South Africa last November, along with imprisoned artists from Burma and Tibet. Various human rights groups and cultural institutions, including the Amnesty International, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines-United Kingdom, University Council of UP Diliman, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Philippine Center of the International PEN (Poets, Essayists, Novelists) support the call for his release.

“Even if it has become dangerous to integrate with the masses, the scholars of the nation know it has to be done,” Dean Roland Tolentino said in his speech at the UP.

Acosta’s songs and writings from prison is posted by the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign in his JAILHOUSE BLOG (http://www.acostaprisondiary.blogspot.com). Pictures can be downloaded from the Free Ericson Acosta Facebook page and campaign blog (http://www.freeacosta.blogspot.com).


Friday, February 10, 2012

FREE ERICSON ACOSTA NOW!


ERICSON ACOSTA is a former editor of the U.P. Philippine Collegian.
He is also known to his peers at the university as a poet, thespian, and songwriter.


He was arrested without warrant by the military on February 13, 2011, in an upland barrio in Samar just because the laptop he carried roused the suspicion of soldiers. He was accompanied by a local barrio official at the time of his arrest, as he was doing human rights work as volunteer researcher of the local peasant group KAPAWA in Western Samar.

We, his family, friends, colleagues and supporters demand nothing less than his immediate and unconditional release. Political persecution and the malevolent criminalization of activists have no place in a democracy.

Ericson’s sense of responsibility as Iskolar ng Bayan has led him to work in the grassroots and create art with the people. Even in detention, Ericson continues to craft poetry and songs, highlighting the plight of political prisoners in the country.

Respect for human rights is an indication of the government’s resolve to genuinely serve the people. Political prisoners are rights advocates whose bid for a more humane society is twisted and distorted in the hands of state discourse. Ericson Acosta’s right to participate productively as a free citizen of this country is violated each day he remains in detention. A year after his illegal arrest, we enjoin all freedom-loving Filipinos to defend human rights and to usher in peace based on justice.

FREE THE ARTIST!
FREE ERICSON ACOSTA!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!


SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION FOR ERICSON ACOSTA'S IMMEDIATE RELEASE
at CHANGE.ORG