Sak mot poet frafallt etter to års varetekt

(WiPC/IFEX) – 1 February 2013 – The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is delighted to learn that on 31 January 2013 the case against poet, song-writer, journalist and activist Ericson Acosta was dismissed for lack of evidence. Acosta had been held without trial since February 2011. The Philippines PEN Centre, joined by PEN International and its national Centres worldwide, was part of a sustained local and international campaign that is believed to have contributed to his release.

Poet, songwriter and activist Ericson Acosta was detained for almost two years on what are now acknowledged to be trumped up charges of illegal possession of explosives. On 31 January 2013 the Department of Justice (DoJ) released a favorable resolution to Acosta’s Petition to have his criminal case reviewed. His Petition for Review was filed at the DoJ in September 2011. Orders for his release are expected imminently.

On 18 January 2013, Ericson Acosta, aged 40, was granted temporary release from the Calbayog prison in Samar, and transferred to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), in Quezon City where he has undergone surgery for kidney problems. He is said to be making a good recovery.

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 . . . In jail, I yearned for sea and sky. Freedom cannot be achieved by mere yearning, only by struggle.”

Ericson Acosta has worked as cultural writer for the Manila Times, and has acted in and directed a number of theatre plays. On 13 February 2011, Acosta was arrested by the military, in San Jorge, Samar, east of the country, on suspicion of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). At the time of his arrest, Acosta was said to be unarmed and conducting research on human rights and environmental issues in the area. He was reportedly held incommunicado for three days, during which he was ill-treated, tortured and threatened with death. On 16 February 2011, the charge of illegal possession of explosives was filed against him.

Ericson Acosta has continued to write and to give press interviews from prison. For further information on his case and to read some of his poems check the campaign site, as well as the Free Ericson Acosta Facebook page. The Philippines PEN Centre has been active in campaigning for his release.

2007: The Philippines: Hernani Pastolero

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Office of the President
New Executive Building, Malacanang Palace Compound
J.P.Laurel Street, San Miguel, Metro Manila,
Philippines                                Fax: +632 735 80 06

Oslo, 21 February 2007

Your Excellency,

I, as Chair of The Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, condemns the murder of Hernani Pastolero, editor of the weekly Lightning Courier, who was shot dead on 19 February 2007 on the island of Mindanao. The motive for the murder is unknown.  A senior Mindanao police officer is reported to have said he believed witnesses were afraid to speak out.
According to a report on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) website, 49 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001. Most have been provincial radio reporters believed to have been targeted for their reporting on local corruption and criminal gangs, and it is said that no-one has been successfully prosecuted for any of these killings.

I am alarmed at  the number of journalists who continue to be killed with impunity in the Philippines, including editor Hernani Pastolero, and I urge you, Your Excellency, to take all necessary steps to ensure that all acts of violence against journalists are vigourously investigated.

I am also alarmed at the number of journalists who continue to be targeted with apparent impunity for their reporting in the Philippines, and I call upon the Filipino authorities to ensure that all acts of violence against journalists are vigourously investigated and prosecuted.

I trust that you, Your Excellency, will take immediate steps to see to it that those responsible are brought to justice.

Yours sincerely,

Elisabet W. Middelthon
Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN

Copies to:
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo
The Filipino Embassy in Sweden/Norway
The Norwegian Embassy in the Philippines