Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why cage poets?

July 31, 2012


Political prisoner Ericson Acosta is in need of medical attention. Please forward, blog, tweet and share this letter of appeal from the Acosta family. We also encourage everybody to write to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to request the resolution of the Ericson Acosta case review which has been pending for almost a year. You may also address appeals to concerned government officials to drop trumped-up charges against Ericson and effect his immediate release. Please see attached materials for information on Ericson.

A Father’s Plea

I am Isaias Acosta, father of detained artist and activist Ericson Acosta. I am writing this while I recuperate from a minor surgery pending further medical tests. Prior to my operation, I was all set for another visit to the sub-provincial jail in Calbayog City, Samar where my son has been detained for more than a year now.

I am now 79 years old, not in the best of health but would not pass up a chance to visit Ericson if I could help it. My wife, Liwayway, is turning 80 this year. She would have gone to Calbayog without me but she can hardly walk without support.
We are both physically suffering due to our respective conditions but nothing compares to the torment of knowing that our son continues to be unjustly imprisoned.

My recent medical setback ironically and agonizingly emphasizes the reason behind our intended urgent visit. Lately, Ericson had been complaining of a nagging pain in his abdomen and lower back. The pain, he says, intensifies whenever he urinates. Now he has also noticed spots of blood in his urine. My cousin, Ericson’s uncle, displayed similar symptoms before he succumbed to prostate cancer.

Ericson rarely complains when he is sick. Even when he was arrested last year, his first words to me were, “Daddy, huwag kayo’ng mag-alala.” He always tells his mother not to fuss over him. Ganyan si Ericson. Hindi niya iniinda hangga’t kaya niya. Once when he was still in grade school, he waited until a “stomach ache” had become too unbearable before he finally told us to take him to the hospital. It turned out he immediately needed to undergo an appendectomy. The doctor said we got there in the nick of time.

Ericson’s last check-up two years ago revealed a renal function abnormality and a possible prostate affliction. So as soon as we received word that he is in pain, we arranged for a visit and asked our lawyers to immediately file a motion before the court seeking urgent medical attention for my son.

We had to skip the visit because of my condition. But after we filed the motion, we were told that the judge in charge of his case had just retired. How long would it take until a new judge is installed? It is as if our frustration with the slow resolution of Ericson’s case is not enough. We are once again left bereft of immediate legal options.

I write this letter of appeal to the jail warden, to the Department of Justice, to Secretary Leila de Lima, and to all other concerned branches of government. I am an old man with no shortage of illnesses as expected of anyone my age, but I would gladly forfeit any trip to the doctor if it could only be traded for much-needed medical treatment for my son. His mother and I fear that his latest hunger strike has further worsened his condition. Ericson must get the medical attention he needs.

I am writing this letter a few days after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was released on a million-peso bail. I cannot but be distressed by the continuing prejudice of our justice system against my son and other political prisoners like him.

Arroyo was placed under hospital arrest in consideration of her illness. Si Arroyo, sa kabila ng kanyang mga kasalanan sa taumbayan, ay pinayagang manatili sa de-aircon na ospital, regular na inaasikaso ng mga doktor at nars gamit ang buwis ng mamamayan. Ngayon siya’y pinalaya pa. Si Ericson at iba pang tulad niya na ang tanging kasalanan ay magsakripisyo para sa maliliit na tao, nasa kawawang kalagayan at hindi kinikilala ang mga karapatan. No, we do not seek preferential treatment like Arroyo. What we demand is that Ericson and all other political prisoners – who are ailing precisely because of dismal prison conditions – also be accorded the right to medical attention as necessary.

We appeal to all freedom-loving citizens and human rights advocates to once again help us in our latest plea for Ericson. During these disconcerting times, we shall continue to fight for Ericson’s release from detention. We add our voices to all others whose sons and daughters are unjustly imprisoned – free all political prisoners.



Details for letter-writers:

Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street,
Malate, Manila,
Telephone: (02) 532-8481, (02) 523-6826

Secretary, DOJ
Telefax: 523-9548
Direct Line: 521-1908
Trunkline: 523-8481 loc. 211, 214

H.E. Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
MalacaƱang Palace
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila 1005
Voice: (+632) 735-6201 / 564-1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

Directory of Philippine consulates and embassies:

Please sign the ONLINE PETITION for Ericson Acosta's immediate release


Please visit these links:
JAILHOUSE BLOG: Ericson Acosta's Prison Diary
Ericson Acosta with his son Emman
And So Your Poetry Must
by Ericson L. Acosta
Be wary you say
of its claims
lest you waive art
to us millions unworthy
of taste and manner
lest you be christened
peddler of images
alien in form
pagan in content
lest your license
be forfeited
your ear for resonance
your feel for the sublime.
And so while you summon
the litany of worlds
your own words fashion
you annul my existence
and those of millions
whose narratives you say
betray poetic tone
make burlesque of beauty
and thus like scarecrows
set even the most heretic
muses scurrying back
to their sanctum of rules.
And so in recollecting
your epiphanies
you elude the void
which is my hunger
the famine of millions
the empty bowl of history.
And so with your eulogies
to passion
to rage against time
to pledge with life’s gift
you lull the birth
of noise
of revenge
of bloodshow
that shall feed millions
complete history
and perhaps spare poetry.
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