February 5, 2013 11:41 AM
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2 – 1:42 p.m.) Close to two years after he was arrested and detained by authorities who accused him of being a communist rebel leader, cultural worker and former UP Collegian editor Ericson Acosta is officially a free man once more.
Acosta, 40, left the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, where he was confined since January 18, shortly after noon Tuesday.
Acosta, 40, in a statement, vowed to “continue to call for a general, omnibus and unconditional amnesty for all political prisoners.”
The National Union of People’s Lawyers, in a separate statement, said they have advised “and even encouraged” Acosta “to file and pursue various countercharges against identified military and police personnel who have blatantly and brazenly violated his rights and persecuted him and others.”
“The message is that one cannot continue disrespecting rights of the people and cover it up with legal fiction without being held accountable sooner or later,” the NUPL said.
On Monday, Judge Feliciano Aguilar of Regional Trial Court branch 41 in Gandara, Samar dismissed the illegal possession of explosives filed against Acosta and ordered him released.
And on Tuesday, RTC branch 41, the 9th Judicial Region and the Samar provincial prosecutor’s office issued certifications that Acosta has no other pending case.
Acosta was confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute after the court granted the request of Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta for the immediate treatment of his kidney condition.
Last week, the Department of Justice granted Acosta’s motion for review of his case and ordered the Samar provincial prosecutor to withdraw the charges filed against him.
Acosta was arrested February 2011 in Samar by the military, which filed the charges against him. But his family and supporters have called the charges trumped up and maintain he was conducting research when he was captured.
In a statement on Tuesday, Acosta said he was “in high spirits as I return to the ranks of cultural workers and mass activists for national democracy.”
“My incarceration brought me face to face with the grim conditions in prison, and the dismal state of our justice system,” he said.
During his detention, he said, “my comrades and supporters have kept me abreast on current events, national campaigns, and urgent people’s concerns. Our fight for human rights and justice amidst the climate of impunity in the country is even more pressing today; and it is a compelling reason for our unity and action.”
The campaign to free Acosta gained support from cultural, human rights and free expression groups worldwide.
Looking back on this, Acosta said, “We are in a better position to push for the release of all political prisoners. Reflecting on my own experience, a crucial component of this campaign is our call to end the criminalization of political dissent, (end) illegal arrest and torture.”