Kin, writers and artists launch campaign for release of detained poet Ericson Acosta

The Father-In-Law Speaks

Ericson’s father-in-law art critic Pablo Tariman has come out with a series of articles pressing for Ericson’s release, and in some of them he shared how he managed to explain to his grandson eight-year old Emmanuel the circumstances of his father’s detention. The boy had begun to ask questions about who was in jail and why did he keep on hearing lawyers and court hearings in his grandfather’s phone conversations.

“I told him gently his father is closely guarded by soldiers and he couldn’t move around. I tried to avoid the words ‘arrest’ and ‘jail’. At age 8 and entering grade 3 only this coming school year, there are many things I couldn’t explain well to my grandson,” he said.

Mr. Tariman has also told Emmanuel that he can visit his father in that Samar jail before his father’s birthday.

” In my mind, this cultural worker (who happens to be my son-in-law) doesn’t deserve the hot summer nights in a Calbayog provincial jail,” he said.

The respected art critic has put together a fundraising concert for his son in law. Violinist Gina Medina and pianist Mary Anne Espina will perform on Saturday, May 28, 2011, 6 p.m. at the Balay Kalinaw in UP Diliman, Quezon City. Tickets are being sold at P1000 (US$23.35 with buffet dinner) and P500 (US$11.62 concert only).

The Government’s Iron-Fist Policy on Perceived Enemies

In its support statement, the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign has said that the poet’s rights continue to be violated each day he remains incarcerated.

“The fabricated charges are intended to keep him under government’s control and scrutiny. His frail appearance in the photo released to media by the AFP heightens concerns for his health given the conditions in jail. The road to genuine and lasting peace cannot be paved with government’s continued iron-fist policy of arresting its perceived enemies on mere suspicion. It behooves the Aquino government to forge favorable conditions in the conduct of its peace efforts by releasing political prisoners,” it said.

“His works as a writer, poet, thespian, singer and songwriter have remained relevant especially to the succeeding generations of UP activists in and out of the university. His bias for the poor and oppressed dates back to his campus days.”

After its ascent to power, the Aquino government has begun peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), but it has not taken action on calls for the release of political prisoners.

According to human rights grouos Karapatan and Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), there are 344 political prisoners in the country. Most of them have been slapped with common crimes, a violation of the Hernandez political doctrine.

Ericson himself has written a personal message addressed to his supporters. He admitted that he has, understandably, some difficulty writing whenever the enormity of his current circumstance strike him anew, but on the whole he remains optimistic.

“I have already received and read most of what have been written about me since my arrest. These have given me a clear picture of how promptly friends and comrades have actively taken my cause, and how in a short period of time the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign has reached quite an extensive base of support. I am of course sincerely touched by all this. I have long been wanting to communicate with them through letters or general statements, not only to thank them but also to personally shed light on my experience with state fascism,” he said.

Ericson said that he has succeeded in writing a piece on the human rights situation in Samar as well as a full account of his arrest and continuing detention. He said that he is now even more encouraged to continue writing despite the sorry conditions he currently faces in prison.

“My active engagement through my writings naturally serves to effectively amplify the campaign, as well as the general call to free all political prisoners. While I am in fact the principal subject of the Free Ericson Acosta campaign, it’s time that I enlisted myself as its principal mass leader and propagandist as well,” he said. (

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