(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.