Thursday, September 1, 2011
Artists, supporters to DOJ: Review case of detained artist Acosta
NCCA Exec. Dir. Malou Jacob joins support rally
Supporters of the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC) trooped to the Department of Justice (DOJ) today to call on the agency to act promptly on the Petition for Review filed by the lawyers of detained artist and activist Ericson Acosta.
Acosta’s counsel, led by Attys. Edre Olalia, Julian Oliva, Jr. and Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), filed a Petition for Review (please see attached) of the illegal possession of explosive case lodged against Acosta, before the DOJ today.
Acosta has been in detention for more than six months now without a proper court case filed against him. In a recent statement, the Amnesty International has called on Philippine authorities to “end to Acosta’s detention without trial.”
Acosta was arrested without warrant by the military in San Jorge, Samar last February 13. He is currently detained at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail.
The petition came after Acosta’s Motion for Reconsideration (MR) filed June 21 was denied by the local prosecutor in a July 12 Resolution. The NUPL received a copy of the said Resolution only last August 17. Acosta’s MR was denied as “(t)he defenses raised need to be threshed out in a full blown trial,” according to the resolution.
“The investigating prosecutor seriously erred in recommending that an information for illegal possession of explosive be filed against (Acosta) in court,” read the NUPL’s petition. The petition prayed that DOJ. Sec. Leila de Lima set aside resolutions by Investigating Prosecutor Agustin M. Avalon dated April 20 and July 12, and issue a new resolution dismissing the complaint
It stated several irregularities and human rights violations in Acosta’s arrest and detention, namely, 1) that Acosta was arrested without warrant while not committing any crime or doing anything illegal; 2) he was not informed of the reason for his arrest at the time of his arrest; 3) he was denied the right to counsel; 4) he was denied a phone call and prevented from
contacting his family or his lawyer; 5) he was subjected to prolonged interrogation for 44 hours; 6) he was physically and psychologically tortured during tactical interrogation; 7)he was deprived of sleep, threatened, intimidated, coerced and forced to admit membership in the NPA; 8)the grenade subject of the case was planted; 9) the complaint against him was filed in
court only after 72 hours and 30 minutes; and, 10) he was detained in a military camp, which is not of civilian jurisdiction.
“(Avalon) resolved only two (2) of the ten (10) foregoing defenses of respondent in arriving at his conclusion… conceding that indeed there was violation of respondent's constitutional, statutory and human rights by the military in his arrest and continued detention.”
“..the role of the Public Prosecutor is not mainly to prosecute but essentially to do justice to every man and to assist the court in dispensing justice,” the petition argued. It cited the Albay Accredited Constructors Asso. v. Desierto, 480 SCRA 520 case, to wit: "The ultimate purpose of preliminary investigation is to secure the innocent against hasty, malicious, and oppressive
prosecutions, and to protect him from open and public accusation of crime, from the trouble, expenses and anxiety of a public trial, and also to protect the State from useless and expensive prosecutions."
Artists troop to DOJ
Artists and supporters led by Acosta’s family held a picket rally at the DOJ in light of the petition filing.
National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Executive Director Malou Jacob graced the event. "It is the task of the NCCA to protect artists and their rights," Jacob said.
Stage director and screenwriter Bonifacio Ilagan called on the DOJ to “assess the legality of Acosta’s arrest and detention and to investigate and punish perpetrators of rights violations.” Ilagan himself was a former political detainee during Martial Law and is now the secretary-general of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA).
The FEAC also submitted to Sec. de Lima customized petition-postcards and statements in support of Acosta. Signatories to the postcard-petition include National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera and F. Sionil Jose, and members of Philippine Center of International PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists), among them board members Jun Cruz Reyes, Lito Zulueta, Elmer Ordonez, Ronald Baytan, Susan Lara and Wendell Capili. TV and stage director Soxie Topacio; dance performance artist Myra Beltran; playwright and NCCA Executive Director Malou Jacob; visual artists Karen Flores, Mideo Cruz, Leonilo Doloricon, and Boy Dominguez also signed the petition for the dropping of charges against Acosta. The FEAC has also gained international support from human rights advocates and artists groups in the USA, Canada and Europe.