Detained poet seeks dialogue with DOJ

ericson-acosta

WHILE undergoing medical treatment at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), political prisoner Ericson Acosta has asked for a dialogue with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to seek the immediate resolution of his case.

Acosta, 40, a poet, songwriter and former editor of the UP Philippine Collegian, was arrested by the military in San Jorge, Samar , February 13, 2011. He was interrogated and tortured inside a military camp for three days before a trumped-up charge of illegal possession of explosive was filed against him to justify his arrest and detention.

Acosta was granted temporary freedom by the local court in Samar for him to undergo medical treatment for his renal problems.  After 23 months at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail, Acosta went straight to the NKTI for treatment last Friday, January 18.  He was flown to Manila through the assistance of Atty. Persida Rueda-Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

“I was arrested without warrant by the military, tortured, tagged a terrorist and criminal, incarcerated for 23 long months – left to suffer while waiting for your good office to carry out a favorable resolution to the Petition for Review we filed in September 2011.”

“Why exactly is this resolution still pending?” read Acosta’s one-page letter to the Justice Secretary.

The 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).  In 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’s family and supporters are currently raising funds to shoulder costs of his hospitalization,  including expenses for  a scheduled operation to remove kidney stones,  and medicine.

Overkill security arrangement

Yesterday, around 10 armed personnel from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) arrived at Acosta’s hospital room and introduced themselves to be his new security detail. BJMP personnel will replace the lone jail officer from the Calbayog sub-provincial jail, who will be flying back to Samar tomorrow. Acosta’s visitors and friends expressed disappointment with the new rules including Acosta being handcuffed in bed, and not allowing his family or  paralegal companions to use cellular phones.

“Ericson was temporarily released on humanitarian grounds. He stayed here for four days with only one security escort and there have been no problems with him entertaining dozens of visitors and supporters every day. He is not a criminal. The last thing he needs is an overkill of simple security arrangements, ” said UP Art Studies Prof. Roselle Pineda who was visiting Ericson when armed BJMP personnel arrived at the NKTI last night.

“We hope that Sec. de Lima considers Ericson’s request so that she can see for herself what kind of person this government has wrongly imprisoned. Ericson should not be tied down anymore because he clearly does not want to escape justice. Ericson Acosta in fact is just waiting for justice to finally prevail, ” Pineda said.

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