MANILA, Philippines–The Gandara Samar Regional Trial Court ordered the release of cultural worker and poet Ericson Acosta after the Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew the criminal case filed against him.
Acosta has been in detention for two years after he was arrested in San Jorge Town in Samar in 2011 while conducting human rights research. Authorities tagged him as a member of the communist movement.
He was slapped with a case for illegal possession of explosives before the Samar Regional Trial Court.
“The court having received a resolution [from the DOJ] and a motion to withdraw information and finding the same to be in order…accused Ericson Acosta is hereby ordered released from the custody of the BJMP, Quezon City,” the Gandara court through Judge Feliciano Aguilar said.
The DOJ dropped the case against Acosta after citing numerous irregularities committed by authorities starting from his arrest.
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 makes 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.