SELDA joined the family of Ericson Acosta to call for the release of Acosta and to commemorate November 15 as the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. Declared as such by PEN International, it is an annual event to “intended to recognize and support writers who resist repression of the basic human right to freedom of expression and who stand up to attacks made against their right to impart information.” PEN International is an organization of writers, poets, playwrights, journalists, etc. who promote literature and defends freedom of expression.
Ericson Acosta is among this year’s highlighted imprisoned artist, together with four other writers from Iran, Mexico, Turkey and Ethiopia.
Acosta, a writer-artist activist was arrested by elements of 34th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on February 2011 in San Jorge, Samar. He was suspected to be a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) by mere possession of a laptop. Acosta is currently detained at Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail. For almost two years, Acosta never had trial for the charges against him. His petition for a review for the charge of illegal possession of explosives at the Department of Justice is still pending after more than a year now. Also, Acosta’s request for the court to have a medical check-up remains unheeded.
According to Selda not only do they file trumped up charges against activists or writers, the rotten justice system has made it even harder for political prisoners to get a fair and quick trial. “Mahigit anim na buwan na yang rekwest na ipagamot ang anak namin, bakit ang tagal-tagal sagutin? Ang gusto namin, palayain na nila si Ericson, kasi hindi totoo ang mga ibinibintang ng mga sundalo sa kanya, (“The request for our son to be given a medical check-up has been filed for more than six months now, why are the courts taking so long to answer this? What we want is for Ericson to be released, because what the soldiers accuse him is not true.”)” Isaias Acosta, father of Ericson said.
The number of political prisoners is increasing under this administration. Recent arrests are that of Rolly Panesa, a security guard arrested and tortured on October 5. Government soldiers insist that he is Benjamin Mendoza, an alleged high ranking NPA rebel; Zarah Alvarez, a human rights worker of Karapatan-Negros was also arrested on October 30. She was charged with murder. While Grayson Naogsan, the son of Cordillera People’s Democratic Front spokesperson Simon Naogsan was taken from a mall in Baguio on November 5. He was disappeared for several days before his family and human rights workers found him at the Ifugao provincial jail. He was arrested based on a defective warrant baring a different name.
“Impunity has not been addressed with the increasing number of political prisoners today. Ericson Acosta is one of the 401 political prisoners in the country,” Angie Ipong, secretary general of SELDA said. “We fear that the numbers will escalate with the Noynoy Aquino government’s continuing tactic of illegal arrest and detention to silence its perceived enemies,” Ipong continued.
As of end of September, KARAPATAN have documented 401 political prisoners, 123 of them were arrested and detained under the Aquino administration. “With the support of international groups like PEN, the call to free all prisoners will reverberate to other parts of the world and we will not stop enjoining others to this campaign until all political prisoners are freed.” Ipong concluded. ###
Reference: Angie Ipong, Secretary General Contact Number: 094995887373