Political Detainee, Poet Ericson Acosta Tortured, Almost Executed by Military

When the women asked where Acosta would be taken, the soldiers merely ordered them to leave. Dacles and the rest of the Bay?ang group were compelled to leave Acosta with the soldiers and went straight to the port.

An Order to Kill Acosta

After his arrest, the soldiers led by a 2nd Lieutenant Jacob Madarang told Acosta that he would be taken to the headquarters of the Charlie Company of the 34th Infantry Batallion in Barangay Blanca Aurora. They walked all the way through stretches of rocky and muddy terrain, and during the journey, Acosta heard Madarang inform his superiors that they had arrested him.

It was then, Acosta said, that he realized that Madarang was being ordered to kill him.

“I immediately got the drift of the said conversation. It seemed that Madarang was being told not to bring me anymore to the Company headquarters, but just to ‘get rid’ of me instead. Madarang, on the other hand, was sort of lobbying or politely insisting that it was wiser to bring me to headquarters for interrogation as he strongly felt that that they could extract from me some valuable information. After the phone call, Madarang told his men that they would take me to the Charlie Company HQ in Blanca. He also commanded a soldier to tie me by the waist before we marched again,’ he said.

After an hour and a half, Madarang ordered one of his men to give Acosta his jacket.

“At first I thought of it as some simple gesture of humanitarian concern on the part of the young lieutenant. As soon however as we entered a village center (this was the barangay immediately before Barangay Blanca), I found out what the jacket was really all about. The soldier behind me who was also the one holding my leash suddenly placed his right arm upon my shoulders. The act made it appear that this soldier and me were casually walking like pals as the platoon passed through the dimly lit streets of the village. The platoon had to make sure that no one in the barrio saw the unit with a captive,” he said.

The soldiers and Acosta arrived at the military headquarters around 9:00 p.m. and Acosta was turned over to higher military authorities. He was told that he should be grateful that they let him live because he could have been shot and killed instead and the account reported as the result of an encounter with rebels.

For the next few hours, Acosta was subjected to interrogation. He reminded the military of his rights and said that his arrest, detention and interrogation were all beyond the bounds set by law.

“I said that if they are in any way contemplating on charging me with something, then they should just bring me to the nearest police detachment and that I would urgently be needing the assistance of my lawyer,” he said. The military dismissed his requests .

By Acosta’s account, the interrogation by at least eight military officials who took turns began 10:30 p.m. on the day of his arrest and ended only on 6:00 pm of February 15. In the intervening 44 hours, he was only allowed two hours of sleep and only because his interrogators themselves already got too tired and sleepy.

The Grenade

On February 15, Acosta was taken to the San Jorge Municipal Police Headquarters in a SUV. It was there that the soldiers produced a grenade. They proceeded to report to the PNP that the grenade was Acosta’s and that he tried to attack soldiers with it when he was arrested.

After the PNP, the soldiers took Acosta to Gandara Hospital to be examined by a medico?legal practitioner.

On February 16 at 7:30 a.m., Acosta was made to go through a blotter procedure. The police made him fill up some forms, took his fingerprints and mug shots. After 30 minutes, military officials led by a colonel arrived and took Acosta to the Calbayog City Hall of Justice . He was handcuffed.

During the entire time when he was being charged, no one among the military explained to him what he was being accused of. When he ventured to ask, he was shouted at.

A police official asked if it was legally possible for Acosta to be handed back to the military under some special custodial arrangements. It was then that Acosta made sure to speak out.

“I made sure that my voice was loud and clear for all the employees in that big office to hear. I stood up and said that the idea was highly irregular and definitely illegal. I then drew their attention toward the colonel and his men by pointing at their group while saying that these men in civilian clothes were the soldiers and officers who illegally arrested me and are now my complainants, and I would never allow them to take me into custody,” he said.

One of the employees told Lucero that I could not be brought back to the military and the best alternative was to bring me to the sub?provincial jail. Acosta then insisted on being allowed to make a phone call to his family in Metro Manila, saying that the San Jorge PNP had previously denied him the right to do so. The same employee told Lucero to take Acosta to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

Acosta was able to call his mother, but it was a short phone call and then he was taken to the sub?provincial jail where he was remitted. He later learned that a Complaint for Illegal Possession of Explosives was filed against him before the Regional Trial Court of Calbayog City at 10:30 a.m. of February 16, 2011.

Advocacy for the Peasantry

The peasant organization Kapawa Western Samar has in the meantime vouched for Acosta, denouncing his arrest and calling for his immediate release.The group said that that the military arbitrarily arrested Acosta and filed baseless charges of illegal possession of explosives.

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