By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The family of political prisoner Ericson Acosta has been receiving text messages saying that Ericson or his parents might get killed on November 2, All Souls Day.
Isaias Acosta, 79, father of Ericson, said his driver received a series of messages in the morning of October 24 and 25. The first message read: “ericson acosta is in danger he might get killed on all souls day please spread the news.” This was followed by a Filipino translation of the first message: “please spread the news ericson acosta plano patayin sa araw ng patay. kung ndi man siya ay ang kanyang magulang n nktra sa anapolis cubao… Anonymous UST…”
Ericson, 40, is a poet and journalist who was arrested on February 13, 2011 in San Jorge, Samar by elements of the 34th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. After three days of interrogation and torture inside a military camp, Ericson was charged with illegal possession of explosives and was tagged by the military as a high-ranking New People’s Army (NPA) rebel.
On October 27, more threatening messages were received by the family.
“We have no known enemies. We are too old. We have many illnesses,” Isaias said. The messages came a few days before the 80th birthday of Ericson’s mother, Liwayway. “Is this their idea of a birthday present?” Mr. Acosta asked.
At around 4 a.m. today, more threatening messages were received by the family, this time using another mobile number. At around 10:30 a.m., the sender sent another message, saying that they were just outside the house of Ericson’s parents.
Mr. Acosta has no doubt that the threats came from state agents. “Ericson is the lone political prisoner (at the sub-provincial jail in Calbayog City), yet the military has deployed troops around the jail to harass him and his visitors. The jail is supposed to be a civilian facility, yet Ericson has been virtually under military detention.”
Since his arrest, soldiers never left Ericson. Heavily armed soldiers have encamped beside the jail and every hearing, they would escort Ericson to the court.
Mr. Acosta also expressed disappointment over President Benigno Aquino III’s statement that human rights violations are “mere Leftist propaganda.” During his visit to New Zealand last week, President Aquino reportedly skirted the issue of human rights violations when asked about it by saying that these were all “Leftist propaganda,” and that its record speaks for itself.
“My son is a victim of torture and prolonged illegal detention. Our petition for review before the DOJ (Department of Justice) has been pending for more than a year now, when it should only take 60 days for them to issue a resolution,” Mr. Acosta said.
In July, the family filed a motion for Ericson to be accorded immediate medical attention for his renal problems. “After three months, the court has not acted upon the motion. Private doctors have silently turned down our requests to check on Ericson — we understand their fears because Ericson is surrounded by soldiers. In his latest letter, Ericson said he had another high fever last week. Instead of justice, we now receive more insults and threats,” Mr. Acosta said.