Filomino Tabon-Tabon, KAPAWA Chairman, said that farmers attest to his Acosta’s admirable work and advocacy for the peasantry. He said that Acosta volunteered to work with their organization in San Jorge as well as other towns in Samar province.
“He has helped Kapawa with our campaign against hunger, malnutrition, poverty and militarization here in Western Samar. One of his contributions to Kapawa is his research regarding large-scale mining in the province. He wrote articles about the situation of farmers in the province that contributed to the success of the farmers’ rally in Catbalogan, which marked the occasion of Peasant Month and ‘World Foodless Day’ last October, 2010,” Tabon-Tabon said in a statement.
The organization said they are certain that Acosta did not carry guns or explosives.
“What the soldiers took from him were his personal belongings, including the computer or laptop he uses for his work. Acosta was illegally arrested while he was doing research on the human rights situation in Barangay Bay-ang and other adjacent villages in the towns of Catbalogan, San Jose de Buan, Motiong and Jiabong. Barangay Bay-ang is just one of the many barrios in Samar that fall prey to widespread military operations and abuses ever since the time of Jovito Palparan and up until the current Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino regime,” it said.
It went on to say that military operations still torment the countryside and that there is repression, oppression and the military abuses against human rights persist under the government of President Benigno Aquino III and that farmers remain in extreme poverty, and suffer much from natural disasters.
“We do not feel that the Aquino regime is indeed sincere when he says he will free the peasants of this burden, as the government clearly lacks programs favorable to impoverished farmers. While he fails to implement a nationalist, pro-peasant program for land reform, he supports militarization in the guise of ‘bayanihan,’ which in truth continues to cause serious detriment to the livelihood of farmers in the countryside. Aquino maintains the policy of repression against perceived ‘enemies of the state,’ as in the arrest of peasant leader Dario Tomada of SAGUPA-Sinirangan Bisayas in July of 2010. Despite promises of justice and change, the number of political prisoners continue to increase under the Aquino administration,” Kapawa said.
The group said that it fully supports calls for Acosta’s immediate and unconditional release.
“We believe that it is not a crime to help and serve the needy and neglected – it is never wrong for one to advocate the welfare of the marginalized peasant sector,” it said.
Legal Defense Fund
Acosta’s friends and supporters have already set up a legal defense fund and is currently calling on all human rights supporters to contribute.
In their letter being circulated in various social networking sites and posted in the University of the Philippines Alumni website, they stated personal details regarding Acosta.
“Ericson was a former editor of the Philippine Collegian in UP, a former chair of the student cultural group Alay Sining, and a former chair of the campus alliance STAND-UP. He is a writer, journalist, poet, thespian, singer and songwriter. His works remain relevant on and off campus. Since his UP days, Ericson has worked closely with the poor and oppressed. We his friends, together with his family and human rights groups, are working for his immediate release and for the dropping of all the fabricated charges made against him.”
“We appeal for your support for the legal defense fund which we have put up for him. The funds raised will go to Ericson’s legal defense and medical needs. There are the inherent difficulties faced by the family who are based in Metro Manila while Ericson is detained in Samar. Through your help, we can see to it that Ericson will be released and be reunited with his family and the people he serves,” they said.
Supporters may send their contributions to the account under Isaias Acosta, Banco de Oro, The Block SM City North branch, with Savings Account number 0251065464. For international donations, they may be sent to Isaias Acosta, the same branch, account number 00-0251065464, Routing number 021000089, Swiftcode: BNORPHMM.