DOJ junks criminal case vs cultural workerBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Citing numerous irregularities committed by authorities, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has granted the two-year old request of cultural worker and poet Ericson Acosta to drop the criminal case filed against him.
“Wherefore, the instant petition for review is hereby granted. The Provincial Prosecutor of Samar is hereby directed to file the appropriate motion to withdraw the information against Ericson Acosta and to report compliance in writing within 5 days from doing so,” the DOJ said in its resolution approved by Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III.
In its 16-page resolution, among the irregularities cited by the DOJ include the fact that the arresting officers failed to immediately bring Acosta to the nearest police station as required under the Revised Rule on Criminal Procedure.
Next, the DOJ noted that while the arresting officers mentioned in their affidavits that they informed Acosta of his constitutional rights, there was no showing that Acosta was allowed to make phone call to either his lawyer or his family.
Also, the DOJ said that there was no proper inventory of the alleged grenade confiscated from Acosta.
“There should have been some record that would document how, where, when and from whom such grenade was taken. In the instant case, however, the grenade seemed to have just been produced out of thin air, so to speak,” the DOJ said.
The DOJ noted that even the complainants did not contradict the allegations raised by Acosta which make it “sufficient to destroy the presumption of regularity upon which the instant criminal complaint is based.”
“Perforce, in the absence of the same, we find that there is no legal basis to hold respondent Acosta liable for the crime charged against him,” the DOJ said.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) welcomes the DOJ ruling saying they are hoping that other political detainees will get their own “well-deserved freedom.”
“We hail the resolution as it finally officially exposed the trumped-up charge against our client who has suffered already a gross injustice. Somehow, it brings some renewed hope again that dogged pursuit of justice and persistent efforts to right a wrong can still be rewarded ultimately,” Atty. Edre Olalia of NUPL said.
“We hope that the many who are politically persecuted, thrown in jail on false or fabricated charges thru legal shortcuts and hocus pocus and made to indefinitely wait in anguish will get their own well deserved freedom,” he added.
Acosta, 40, was arrested in San Jorge Town in Samar in 2011 while conducting human rights research. He was suspected of being a member of the communist movement.
He is facing a case for illegal possession of explosives before the Samar Regional Trial Court.
He is currently at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City. The Samar Court granted him a medical furlough after a medical team from the Public Attorney’s Office confirmed that he was suffering from nephritis, a condition characterized by blood in the urine (hematuria), lower back pains, high fever and painful urination (dysuria).