Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Artists join solidarity fasting; reiterate call for DOJ to review case of detained artist Acosta

September 13, 2011

Supporters of the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) joined a whole-day solidarity fasting for political prisoners at the Camp Crame today. Hundreds of political prisoners all over the country, including Ericson Acosta, will fast until September 21 to commemorate the declaration of Martial Law.

Today marks the seventh month of Acosta’s detention. Acosta, who is a cultural worker and poet, was arrested without warrant by the military in San Jorge, Samar last February 13. He is currently detained at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail.

“His rights continue to be violated each day he remains incarcerated,” reads a support statement signed by hundreds of artists and writers from major artist groups and institutions in the country, such as the University of the Philippines (UP), the Philippine PEN, the Concerned
Artists of the Philippines (CAP), and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts(NCCA). Among the signatories are National Artists for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and F. Sionil Jose; renowned painter and CAP Secretary-General Leonilo Doloricon; film critic and
UP College of Mass Communications Dean Rolando Tolentino; veteran TV and stage actor and former Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Vice President Nanding Josef; and award-winning playwright and NCCA Executive Director Malou Jacob.

His supporters also reiterated their call for Secretary Leila de Lima and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to act promptly to dismiss Acosta’s case. Acosta’s lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) led by Atty. Jun Oliva, filed at the DOJ a Petition for Review of Acosta’s illegal possession of explosive case last September 1. The petition states that the evidence against Acosta was planted and cited the military’s admission of rights violations in the conduct of Acosta’s arrest and detention.

Stage director and screenwriter Bonifacio Ilagan called on the DOJ to “assess the legality of Acosta’s arrest and detention and to investigate and punish perpetrators of rights violations.” Ilagan himself was a former political detainee during Martial Law and is now the vice-chairperson of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA).

In a recent statement, the Amnesty International has also called on Philippine authorities to “end to Acosta’s detention without trial.”

General, Unconditional, Omnibus Amnesty

Through a postcard-petition addressed to President Aquino, artists expressed concern over the administration’s human rights record. They urged the chief executive to act decisively on the case of political prisoners as it affects vital national issues such as the peace talks.

“It behooves the government to forge favorable conditions in the conduct of its peace efforts by releasing political prisoners, a move your own mother immediately accomplished after the fall of the dictatorship,” read the petition. They cite the continued detention of another recognized artist and poet, Alan Jazmines, who is an NDF consultant arrested by the military despite protection under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) of the GPH-NDF talks.

“It is but just for us now to call on your honorable office to declare a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty for all political prisoners.” Acosta, Jazmines and more than 40 other victims of
political repression, were arrested and slapped with criminal charges under Aquino’s watch.

It was the unjust detention of a poet in the 1950’s, Amado V. Hernandez, which paved the way for the “Hernandez Doctrine” in Philippine jurisprudence. The Hernandez doctrine states that a person who commits a political offense could be charged with rebellion but not with common crimes or criminal charges. Hernandez was a staunch labor leader who was posthumously declared a National Artist for Literature.

The Free Ericson Acosta campaign will hold a cultural presentation entitled “POLDET: Panata sa Kalayaan ng mga Detenido Pulitikal” on September 30 at the UP Diliman Vinzons Hall Rooftop. It will feature the works of Bonifacio Ilagan, Jose F. Lacaba, Joel Lamangan, Axel Pinpin, and other artists who were incarcerated due to their political beliefs. It will highlight the role of artists in the fight against political and artistic repression, and for genuine freedom and
democracy in the nation’s history.

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