Karapatan calls on govt to immediately release Acosta, file charges vs. 34th IB

With DOJ’s Resolution to withdraw information  

With the recent findings and resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to withdraw information against detained poet-artist Ericson Acosta,  “it is in incumbent upon the Aquino government to file charges against the members of the 34th IB for violations of RA 7438, rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

Karapatan said Ericson Acosta's case shows the all-too-familiar violations committed by Aquino’s Armed Forces of the Philippines against activists and ordinary folks they encounter in the course of their “counterinsurgency” campaign: warrantless arrest; the right to be informed why he was arrested; denial of the right to counsel and to inform his family; prolonged interrogation and torture; planted evidence; detention in a military camp, among other violations.  

“Acosta’s experience and plight showcase the situation of the 430 political prisoners in the country who were falsely accused of committing various criminal acts.  In December 2012 alone, 28 people were arbitrarily arrested by the AFP based on trumped up criminal charges,” Palabay noted.

Karapatan cited the case of Maricon Montajes, a UP student, who was arrested in June 3, 2010 by elements of the 743rd Squadron of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) while photo-documenting the plight of the peasantry at Brgy. Mabayabas, Taysan, Batangas. Montajes was charged with Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions and Illegal Possession of Explosives. She is currently detained at the Batangas Provincial Jail. 

On Dec. 7, 2012, lay churchworker Anecita Rojo, 48, was arrested in Bago City, Negros Occidental by members of PNP Regional Intelligence Unit on December 7. She was arrested for murder charges for an alleged NPA ambush in Negros. Rojo remains in detention at Cadiz City-BJMP.

In Isabela, Negros Occidental, 19 indigenous peoples, including three minors, were illegally arrested on December 13 by members of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army for allegedly supporting the NPA.  Of the 19 arrested, eight are still detained and charged with murder and multiple frustrated murder. They are currently detained at the La Carlota-BJMP jail.

“Lies were concocted by the AFP to arrest Ericson and to keep him in jail for almost two years. The 430 political prisoners are on the same boat and should be released immediately. It was done in the case of Acosta, it could be done for the other political prisoners who went through the same harrowing experience as Acosta,” added Palabay. 

She reiterated Karapatan’s observation that there is an uptrend in the cases of people who are falsely charged with criminal offenses “in the course of the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan”, adding that “Ericson Acosta was among the first victims of OpBay when he was illegally arrested and detained on the 2nd month of the implementation of the counter-insurgency policy.”

“The Aquino government should stop its malicious and dangerous policy of filing trumped up charges against persons they perceive as rebels,” said Palabay, stressing Karapatan’s call to junk OpBay.