Group to DOJ: Review cases of peasant political detainees

ANAKPAWIS Rep. Rafael Mariano lauded the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the trumped-up charges against poet, cultural worker and peasant advocate Ericson Acosta.

“We are happy that Ericson Acosta is now a free man. We hope that the DOJ will also review the cases of more than 300 political prisoners still languishing in jails nationwide. Most political detainees are activists and civilians facing fabricated charges filed by the military,” said Mariano.

“We urge Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to also consider reviewing the cases of peasants detained in jails nationwide and order their release,” the Anakpawis solon said.

Acosta, 40, was a researcher of farmers’ group Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB), an affiliate of national peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) when he 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 in Western Samar.

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. Acosta is still confined at the NKTI.

Among peasant advocates who were illegally arrested and detained include:

· Felicidad Caparal of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). She was arrested in February 5, 2009 in Brgy. Urdaneta, Lavezares, Northern Samar. She is now detained at the Dangcalan Provincial Jail in Northern Samar.

· Dario Tomada, a peasant leader in Eastern Visayas and former national council member of KMP. He was arrested in July 22, 2010 and now detained at the Manila City Jail.

· Antipolo 4 namely Jonathan Doroja, Leonardo Ocampo, Roberto Ocampo, Dulcismo Anaiasco of Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka (KASAMA-Rizal) They are detained in Rizal Provincial Jail in Taytay, Rizal since 2004 and accused of various fabricated charges.

· Sisters Maricris and Emilia Quirante or the Quirante 2, women farmers from Negros Oriental who were charged with child abuse and rebellion. They are in prison at the Guihulngan City Jail since their arrest in March 24, 2007. Emilia is a municipal leader of KAUGMAON (KMP Negros Oriental) while Maricris is a peasant organizer.

· Jose Perez, Jaime Lambergo, Santiago Antipuesto, and Romulo Villanueva, also known as Cadiz 4. They were arrested by RPA-ABB on July 5, 2008 in Brgy. Bonifacio, Cadiz, Negros Occidental. They are currently detained at Cadiz Provincial Jail.

· Buenavista 5 namely Antonio Sanchez, Ruben Busalanan, Edwin Lofranco, Rodrigo Mejias and Elpidio Tagsip, farmers from Buenavista, Bohol. They were charged with multiple murder by the military. They are in jail since February 3, 2003 or almost a decade now.

“Supporters and relatives of peasant political detainees are demanding for justice and freedom,” Mariano concluded.

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