[Philippines] Poet Ericson Acosta to be released

English PEN was delighted to learn that on 31 January 2013 the case against poet, song-writer, journalist and activist Ericson Acosta was dismissed for lack of evidence. Acosta had been held without trial since February 2011. The Phillipines PEN Centre and other PEN centres worldwide have been part of a local and international campaign that is believed to have contributed to the decision to release him. 

Poet, songwriter and activist Ericson Acosta is expecting to be freed on Wednesday 6 February 2013, having been detained for almost two years on what are now acknowledged to be trumped up charges of illegal possession of explosives. On 31 January 2013 the Department of Justice (DoJ) released a favorable resolution to Acosta’s Petition to have his criminal case reviewed, and on 4 January the case was formally dismissed.

On 18 January 2013, Ericson Acosta, aged 40, was granted temporary release from the Calbayog prison in Samar, and transferred to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), in Quezon City where he has undergone surgery for kidney problems. He is said to be making a good recovery.

“I would personally thank everyone who campaigned for my release – my family, lawyers, friends, former classmates and colleagues, fellow artists and human rights advocates. Without their continuous support, authorities would not have taken action on my case… In jail, I yearned for sea and sky. Freedom cannot be achieved by mere yearning, only by struggle.”

Thank you to everyone who has joined us in showing support for Ericson 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 withlife’s gift
you lull the birth
of noise
of revenge
of bloodshow
that shall feed millions
complete history
and perhaps spare poetry.

(Published in “F1”, the 1995 Literary Folio of the Philippine Collegian, U.P. Diliman, and edited by Ericson L. Acosta)

“AND SO YOUR POETRY MUST” in Kilometer 64 Blog

To read more of Ericson’s poems, please click here.



About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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