Activist poet Ericson Acosta, who was formally freed from government detention on Tuesday, pledged to lead a national campaign to free all political prisoners in the country.
Acosta, 40, was released by Bureau of Jail Management and Penology guards to his family, friends and lawyers at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, where he had undergone surgery after a Samar court ordered his temporary release two weeks ago.
The Department of Justice last week withdrew the illegal possession of explosives case against Acosta for lack of probable cause, and on Monday the court hearing the charges also dropped the case.
“I am in high spirits as I return to the ranks of cultural workers and mass activists for national democracy. Our fight for human rights and justice amidst the climate of impunity in the country is even more pressing today, and it is a compelling reason for our unity and action. I will continue to call for a general, omnibus and unconditional amnesty for all political prisoners,” Acosta said in a statement.
In a phone interview, Acosta said he was not ruling out returning to Samar, where he was arrested by the military in February 2011 while engaged in volunteer research work for a local peasant group. The military claimed Acosta was a top-ranked officer of the communist New People’s Army.
“There are many political prisoners in Samar and other Eastern Visayas provinces. I promise to do all I can to help them secure their freedom,” he said.
Acosta said he was also planning to go to the Calbayog City jail where he had been detained to visit former fellow inmates. He said his incarceration “brought me face to face with the grim conditions in prison and the dismal state of our justice system.”
He said he was also eager to spend time with his wife and son and to personally attend to the needs of his ailing parents.
Acosta accused the military of trying to “vilify and demonize” him by spreading online photos that showed him carrying an Armalite and dressed like a rebel.
“These are obviously doctored,” he said, recalling that shortly after his arrest, his captors snapped pictures of him “every 30 minutes” and also seized photos stored in his laptop.
He denied the military’s accusation that he was a communist rebel leader plotting to overthrow the government.