SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
The poet and national democratic activist, Ericson Acosta, had his charges dropped by the Department of Justice after he languished in jail for two-years due to lack of evidence. In a press release Acosta and his supporters said:
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.