Aquino’s disturbing indifference

We at the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines in the United Kingdom are deeply concerned with the Philippine government’s seeming lack of interest on reported irregularities and rights abuses in the arrest and continued illegal detention of Filipino artist Ericson Acosta.

Acosta was arrested without warrant on Feb. 13, 2011 in San Jorge, Samar, in an upland militarized village where he was conducting research on the local human rights and environmental situation in the region. In his counter-affidavit, Acosta said he stayed in a military camp for three days where he was interrogated and tortured for 44 hours straight. He was charged with illegal possession of explosives to justify his illegal arrest. He is currently detained at the Calbayog sub-provincial jail, where troopers from the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has camped out within jail premises, thus keeping up the harassment and intimidation that Acosta, his family and visitors have been subjected to.

Acosta has complained about this and appealed his case directly to visiting local officers of the  Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) in the Eastern Visayas. These PCHR officials saw with their own eyes the highly irregular military deployment inside a civilian detention facility. However, the PCHR has not made any report public, and it has neither publicly condemned these rights abuses.

A petition for review which cites serious irregularities and rights abuses was filed by Acosta’s counsel, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), before the Department of Justice in September 2011. Acosta’s complainants have failed to file any comment on this petition. Without such opposition, the review petition should have been resolved within 60 days. However, the DOJ has issued no resolution on the petition. The NUPL recently filed a motion for the immediate resolution of the petition.

No less than President Aquino’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, has told local reporters that “there are no political prisoners” in the Philippines. When asked about government’s response to the plight of Acosta and some 350 other persons who are now in jail for their political beliefs, Lacierda could only reply with empty rhetoric. Government indifference to the plight of the detainees has caused very real suffering to them and their families.

We urge concerned Philippine authorities, especially DOJ officials, to act without delay on Acosta’s petition for review and to immediately release him. His rights continue to be violated each day he is kept in jail. The reported rights abuses and irregularities must be thoroughly investigated and acted upon.

Indeed, it is very disturbing to see that a government led by the son of a revered political prisoner and democracy icon has turned a blind eye to the plight of Ericson Acosta and political detainees in the Philippines.

—REV. CANON BARRY NAYLOR,honorary president, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP-UK); urban canon and parish priest of the Abbey and Holy Spirit Ministries, Leicester

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=23399

Tags: Aquino administration , Benigno Aquino III , democracy , Ericson Acosta , human rights , illegal detention , politics

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • UN warns banana fungus spreading from Southeast Asia
  • Massive infra spending set
  • ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  • Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  • Our Lady of Piat: Centerpiece of Cagayan’s gifts to Christianity
  • Sports

  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Manny Pacquiao in PBA? If so, he’ll wear No. 17
  • PSC sets Blu Girls US training
  • Power Pinoys settle for 7th place
  • Successful coaches to get raise
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  • Entertainment

  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • ‘Community’ star happy with return of show’s creator
  • Jealousy is kid stuff
  • Mommy-daughter adventure continues
  • Business

  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • PH seen to sustain rise in FDIs
  • Gov’t subsidies to state firms fell in first 2 months
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Milpitas, California kids wrap up a successful run of ‘The Wiz’
  • Netizens welcome Japan’s visa-free travel plan
  • Marketplace