Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame:

BAYAN presses for release of all political prisoners


February 19, 2011







February 19, 2011

Lorena P. Santos
daughter of missing Leo Velasco
09175415133/ 434 2837

Daughter of missing NDFP consultant gives a letter to her father addressed to the AFP on the fourth year of disappearance

On the fourth year of disappearance of Leo Velasco, an NDFP consultant for the peace talks, her daughter, Lorena “Aya” writes a letter to him as she and other relatives of missing consultants stage a protest action in front of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

This is Aya’s letter.
Dear Tatay,


A few days ago I had a dream about you. I knew you were here because I can almost smell you. We were talking casually when, out of nowhere I asked, “Are you still alive?”

“No,” you said.

My heart was suddenly stabbed. You said something else that I couldn’t comprehend because I was stuck at the word “No.” Then you hugged me like I had never been hugged my whole life. I hugged you back and I cried. Hard.

Then I was awaken by my own sobs.

Were you telling me that I should start accepting that you are gone? Was that a goodbye hug? It pains me to think so. But four years of searching for you is quite an obvious sign that you will never come home. Today is the fourth year of your disappearance, Tatay. There was never a day that I didn’t miss you nor thought of you.

‘Tay, in those four years, you taught me so much. You taught me to continue this struggle even with the heavy heart of missing you. You taught me to use this anguish and turn it into a fuel in seeking for justice. And even without you, you taught me that your principles are worth fighting, and even dying for. You brought me out of my comfort zone and into the frontlines to confront the perpetrators of injustice and repression in our country. You may not be here but my search had brought me closer to you, and the cause that you carried.

Isn’t it ironic that the fourth year of your disappearance is also the time for the renewal of formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which you had also worked for. If only the peace talks could surface you and all other missing victims.

Forgive me for not being able to find you yet. Even with the change of administration, disappearances still continue, desaparecidos like you are still missing, and perpetrators are still walking free. You are right when you said that it is not the change of administration that will bring significant change in the society but the other way around.

Today, in your fourth year of disappearance, as much as I wanted so bad to forget that you’ve been missing this long, I stand with your photo in front of the institution that abducted you, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to call for your surfacing and for other victims of enforced disappearances. Together with other families of desaparecidos we will continue to fight against this heinous crime and against a repressive state.

Your disappearance has led me to find more of myself.

It has also led me to continue what you strived for. Nanay and Kuya are still here, of course, but also, I stand along many others like me, whose loved ones were disappeared by state security forces. I stand with the Filipino masses who continue to seek justice and genuine social changes, to which you and the other desaparecidos had committed your lives.

Thank you for teaching me to find courage in all this, if not, I would have driven myself crazy not knowing what to do. Thank you for bringing me closer to the people whom you served for they give me comfort and strength to continue the struggle.

Tay, my heart still hopes that you are still alive and will be able to read this. I am still waiting for your return.

I miss you so much!

Your loving daughter,





Bayan presses for release of political prisoners AFP wants peace process to fail, create distraction from corruption probe
Feb. 19, 2011


The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today joined a picket in front of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame to press for the release of political prisoners in light of the ongoing peace talks. The group pressed for the release of detained NDFP consultant Allan Jazmines who was arrested on the eve of the resumption of the peace talks last February 14. They also called for the surfacing of abducted NDFP consultant Leo Velasco. The groups also called for the release of political prisoner Ericson Acosta who was also arrested last February 13.

“The recent arrest of known NDFP consultants by state security forces is intended to sabotage the peace process. The AFP wants to force the NDFP to either pull-out of the negotiations or to capitulate completely to the GPH. The repeated and blatant violations of prior agreements continue to undermine the peace efforts,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Perhaps the AFP wants the peace talks to fail so that total war will be the official policy. With a total war policy, soldiers have a distraction from controversial issues such as the gross corruption of top generals in the AFP,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that that most immediate action the president can take is to release all NDFP consultants covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) so that they can participate in the peace talks.

“The release of NDFP consultants based on the JASIG should be immediate and unconditional. It only requires compliance by the Aquino government,” Reyes said.

Bayan called on president Benigno Aquino III to emulate the example of his mother, former president Cor azon Aquino, who released all political prisoners when she came to power in 1986.

“As the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of EDSA 1 draws near, we cannot help but compare the record of the son with the mother when it comes to releasing political prisoners. Surely Noynoy can do more for the release of political prisoners,” Reyes said.

“He can repeat what he did for the Magdalo and the Morong 43. He can either issue another amnesty proclamation or have the cases of the detainees reviewed and withdrawn. Both are well within his powers as chief executive. He can make the announcement to coincide with the commemoration of EDSA 1,” Reyes said. ###




News release
February 13 2011

Bayan to Aquino: Have a heart, release all political prisoners

Just before Valentine’s Day, the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan called on the Aquino government to “have a heart, and release all political prisoners. The call also came as the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines are set to resume formal peace negotiations on February 15.

“The continued detention of more than 300 political prisoners is part of the grim human rights legacy of the previous Arroyo regime. The previous government sought to silence and suppress its critics from the Left by slapping them with trumped-up charges and non-bailable offenses,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr .

“The Aquino government should have a heart and release all political prisoners. It can certainly build on what it has done for the Morong 43 and cover all remaining political prisoners. This would certainly help the peace negotiations since respect for human rights is one of the main issues related to the peace process,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that the Aquino government can explore various modes for the release of the prisoners, including a review of cases by the Justice Department and the subsequent withdrawal of charges, or a general amnesty proclamation that would be acceptable to the detainees.

“What Aquino did for the Magdalo and the Morong 43, he can also do for the more than 300 political prisoners across the country. All of the political prisoners were fierce critics of the corrupt and fascist Arroyo regime. Their opposition to Arroyo made them targets of state repression,” Reyes said.

“Aquino should also consider the fact that quite a number of political prisoners are actually consultants of the NDFP in the ongoing peace process. Their continued detention does not augur well for the peace talks. Some of them continue to face trumped-up charges as welll,” he added.

Among the detainees are some 12 consultants of the NDFP including recently arrested Tirso Alcantara, as well as the 3 remaining members of the Morong 43 still at the BJMP facility in Bicutan.

Bayan said that government should also be reminded that in the aftermath of EDSA 1, all political prisoners were released by the government of Corazon Aquino.

“This government should not forget that 25 years ago, the first Aquino regime made the correct move of releasing all political prisoners that fought the Marcos dictatorship. Benigno Aquino can do the same and rectify one of most serious violations of human rights done by the past government,” Reyes said.

Bayan is set to join human rights groups on February 14 in a march calling for the release of political prisoners. The groups will converge at the Bustillos church in Manila before proceeding to Mendiola for a short program.

The Philippine negotiating panel with the NDF has said it will exert its best effort for the release of the remaining political prisoners as part of the ongoing peace negotiations. ###



Press Statement
Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao
February 19, 2011

Country’s oldest woman political prisoner, the PH ‘Aung San Su Kyi’, released on 3rd day of GPH-NDFP Peace Talks

he Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao welcomes the dismissal of criminal charges and the subsequent release from detention of Angelina Bisuña Ipong, the country’s oldest woman political prisoner, on February 17, 2011 from the Misamis Occidental Provincial Jail in Oroquieta City.

February 17 marked the third day of formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Oslo, Norway.

Through the able representation of her counsel, UPLM vice chairperson Atty. Emiliano Deleverio, Bisuña’s cases of double murder, double frustrated murder, and arson were dismissed by Presiding Judge Bernadette S. Paredes-Encinareal of the Regional Trial Court Branch 36, Calamba, Misamis Occidental. Encinareal signed the order on February 14, 2011.

The said cases are the last in a string of cases fabricated and filed against her by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, all eventually dismissed.

The release of Bisuña comes a few weeks before March 8, the commemoration of International Women’s Day, the same day she was arrested almost 6 years ago in 2005, in Aloran, Misamis Occidental. She was blindfolded by elements of the 1st Tabak Division of the Philippine Army and held incommunicado for a week; she was also tortured and sexually molested.

Atty. Deleverio was also copy furnished a letter from Atty. Pablito Sanidad, a member of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) peace negotiating panel, sent to Judge Encinareal purportedly asking to expedite the decision on Bisuña’s cases.

UPLM hails the dismissal as a victory in the fight against massive human rights violation committed by state forces, as the cases were fought mainly on the merits by Bisuña and her counsel in the past 6 years. In fact, the repeated calls, both by local and international groups and individuals, for her release on humanitarian grounds were largely ignored, particularly during the time of the disgraced regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

UPLM, however, acknowledges the critical importance of Atty. Sanidad’s letter to the court, and the overall significance of the peace process in her eventual release.

UPLM continues to advocate for the release of all remaining political prisoners and the decriminalization of political offenses.

Political prisoners are prisoners of conscience for any repressive administration. Anyone espousing a political belief should not be imprisoned.

Thus, we call on the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino, as a further goodwill gesture to the ongoing peace process, to also order the unconditional release of all political prisoners all over the country, many of whom were unjustly incarcerated during the time of the hated Arroyo regime.

Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate
Secretary General

Coni Empeño, mother of abducted UP student Karen

Photo by Sarah Raymundo, CONTEND-UP

Lengua de Guzman of BAYAN

Photos by Sarah Raymundo, CONTEND-UP


Picket for the release of all political prisoners.






On Ericson
by Amy Padilla on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:43pm

Ericson and I spent a few years together as writers and later as editors for the Philippine Collegian in the '90s. My memories of him would always be filled with laughter. Most of us called him Acosta, Bading or Dingbat.

Ericson as Kultura staff and editor always stood out for his rambunctious ways. He spent nights writing, drinking, singing and making a lot of noise in the dead of the night from the fourth floor of the Vinzons Hall (where the Collegian office is) and onto the sunken garden.

We would spend presswork nights (that'd be a Saturday) eating cholesterol-laden burgers in front of the Narra hall courtesy of the late Manong Bogart, buy cheap ala carte food in front of the College of Educ and eat by wrapping plastic in our hands, and of course engage in drinking sprees that almost always ended up with him (and some others) drinking too much and we'd only hope he'd throw up at the proper place. On occasions when we had some money, we'd board a tricycle to Tandang Sora to eat goto or mami at midnight.

He'd initially delude probees (probationary writers) into thinking what a hellhole Collegian was and how they had slim chances of making it as regular writers. That or he'd find a way to borrow or ask money from them (or from us) for his regular fare of Tanduay or Gin bulag. (This is where I "'honed" my drinking skills and tolerance for alcohol.)

Ericson savored pretending to berate a news staffer, Alex Valino, who was feisty and refused to be cowed by his crazy ways. Similar to a sitcom, he'd "castigate" her or engage her in inane debates and end up mimicking Alex that we'd all end up laughing.

He and another editor (okay, the EIC), along with other equally crazy male editors and staff, spearheaded a lampoon issue of the Kule with a spoof of the Oblation, posing butt naked in the sunken garden.

He serenaded a friend of ours in the wee hours of the morning, waking up a good number of dormers in campus, and running away from campus policemen in the process.

He was once rushed to the UP infirmary for stomach pains. Later on, hospital staff went on looking for him because he simply checked out on his own. He left because he said he just wanted to. I couldn't recall now if he did so in his hospital garb.

On a personal note, he would interrogate me for keeping a relationship with a PMAyer then - whom he'd derisively refer to as Baguio Oil -- and would go on to "market" another editor who happens to be his sparring partner in booze, music, writing and what have you. I scoffed at him for being so weird, chaotic and carefree. He brokered talks between his friend and me and then would leave the two of us. But that's after he managed to goad us into buying burgers and softdrinks for him in the first place. I ended up marrying that editor. And Ericson our wedding singer. His mother made my gown.

When I graduated from UP, I would only hear from him occasionally but I knew he stayed on in the student movement and especially engaged in cultural work where he best excelled. His many talents, his quirks and bizzare ways included, were now channeled to a purposed objective of being part of the national democratic movement. I am happy to have seen this metamorphosis and how much influence and inspiration he has left to the younger generations of Collegian writers, cultural artists, student activists and more.

For a time I really did wonder what direction he'd be taking given his notorious ingenuity. His mother would tell me, during our visits to their house then, to talk some sense into Eric when he started becoming active politically. That's when I moved to a research NGO and appeared to have an earning job and she'd compare what her son was doing in UP. I would tell her in a nice way that what Eric is doing is sense despite the ever-present financial limitations faced by activists.

Later on when Ericson chose to directly serve the people by living with them in the rural areas, he would occasionally contact me via SMS whenever he was in Manila just to check on me and his friend, and our children. I remember he never failed to ask how our children were doing. He did the same for our other friends and comrades.

Last night when upon reaching home my youngest daughter asked us why we came home late, I had to tell her that her father and I came from a meeting about our friend Ericson, his arrest and how we can campaign for his release. I realized it was the first time I had mentioned him to my child. And I didn't know where to start because she had never set eyes on her Tito Ericson in all of her 10 years. Because that's how long (and more) her Tito has gone to pursue a more dedicated level of commitment in serving the people.

I tried locating pictures of him at home, and I couldn't find a more decent one that didn't have him in his crazy poses, including one inside a cabinet shelf contorting himself.

As a full-time activist myself for 17 years now, I throw my hats off to Ericson. I know he would remain steadfast because he has found his home, his solace in the arrms of the people he has chosen to serve. Now the government is labelling him as a terrorist, a criminal perhaps, but to us and the people he has been giving a good part of his life all these years in service, he is a poet, artist, writer, comrade and a dearest friend --- -all 101% of his funny and inane ways notwithstanding.#





Free Ericson Acosta

Hagulgol ng Gubat

In brutal retaliation for the Balangiga attack, villages were set on fire, crops were destroyed, and thousands are believed to have died.

Ngayon ay labingsiyam at isa.
At dito sa aking tahanan, langit man
ay naliligalig, ayaw tumahan.
Nasasaid ang aking lakas
upang bigyan pa ito ng ibang pangalan.
Maliban sa impiyerno, impiyernong katahimakan
ang nakaratay sa lupa.
Sa maraming taon,
nakaukit sa kanyang mga puno at bundok
ang kanyang pangalan.
Ito ang Samar!
Sa maraming taon,
ibinubulong ng hangin at dalampasigan
ang kanyang pangalan.
Ito ang Samar!
Ito ang Samar!
Ngayon ay labingsiyam at isa.
At dito sa aking tahanan,
ang nakahimlay na kapayapaan
ay nakaukit sa lapida ng mga namatay.


Tag-araw at totoong walang nakadapong halumigmig.
Ngunit nangangaligkig ako,
sukol ako ng aking mga tadyang at gulugod;
Pilit kong nilalabanan ang ‘di mabatid
na sumpang lamig mula sa Kanluran.
Tila ako isang batang sumisinghap,
nalulunod sa bangungot, nagpupumiglas na makakawala
sa malawak na kamay ng dagat,
o sa sikmura ng sinaunang kuweba,
o sa pagkakalingkis ng bolang apoy.
Tila ako isang langong pulpito na natutuliro,
mag-isang naglalakbay sa puso
ng gabi habang nasa kamposanto.

Ngunit hindi ito sementeryo -
wala ritong krus na nakatundos sa mga hungkag na hukay.
Walang punong santol na magsisilbing lilim
at pahingahan ng mga nagluluksa -
mga naulilang umaasa sa ulan,
pang-ampat sa nakatalukbong na init ng araw.
Sapagkat dito, isang dambuhalang lapida ang buong Isla.
Isang malawak na kamposanto itong arkipelago sa Asya.
Sapagkat dito, hindi tubig ang pumapatak na ulan
kundi mga bala mula sa bunganga ng Springfield.

Sapagkat dito, lamon ng Bolang Araw ang Sandaigdigan.


Kaya ngayon, nagpasya akong maging isang panakot-uwak.
Kahit batid kong ni hindi mapapadako rito ang ulilang mayamaya
Kahit batid kong wala ritong madadagit na palay.

Lupa lamang ang narito na pinagyayaman.
Hindi ng init ng mga bulkan
kundi ng malalamig na bangkay.

Lupa lamang ang naritong patunay sa halubigat na nasa aking talampakan.
Lupa lamang ang narito na patuloy kong tutungtungan -

Hanggang maulinigan ko ang pinakamatining
na ungol, iyak, at sigaw ng humahagulgol na gubat --
kung saan naroon ang aking mga kasama at mahal sa buhay.
Na ang mga nalasog na buto ay tumatabing sa ‘di ko na masipat na panginorin;
Na ang mga natadtad na katawan ay simpatag ng gubat;
Na ang mga nabubulok na katawan ay tumatabon sa dating mga palayan -
isang tanawin ito, Oo, isang tanawin na higit pa sa kumunoy
na kailan man naisip ay kong hindi sasagi sa alamat ng aking nawalang kabataan.

Lupa lamang ang naritong patunay sa halubigat na nasa aking talampakan.
Lupa lamang ang narito na patuloy kong tutungtungan -

Hanggang dumating ang pagkakataon
na umawit ang sanggol sa aking sinapupunan,
at sabihin sa akin na ito,
ito na ang panahon upang humakbang ang panakot-uwak,
tunguhin ang dalampasigan ng Dagat Pasipiko
upang doon, maging isang ulilang mayamaya -
habang sinusukat ng pakpak ang lawak ng dagat
at humapon sa buhanginan ng dalampasigan.

At iluwal

Siya, siya na hindi ko kilala ang ama.

Siya na hindi ko mapagsino ang mukha ng kanyang ama.
Ngunit bakit, bakit kailangan ko pang alamin…

Siya, na isa lamang ang ari ng kanyang ama
sa lima o limampung ari ng puti na hindi tuli.
Ngunit walang pakundangang
sinalit-salit ang aking Malayong katauhan.
Sa bawat sibat, sa bawat diin, sa bawat pagwakwak -
Bawat igkas, bawat siklot, ang bawat pagsabog ng apoy
ay tila mga dambuhalang kamay,
nilalamutak ang aking sinapupunan, sinasakmal ang kalamnan.

Huwag nang banggitin pa
ang lunggati ng aking kaluluwa;
Kung totoo ngang
itong kaluluwa ang tanging ikinaiiba
ng babae at ng butas,
o ng lalaki at ng tagdang yari sa Amerika.


Oo aking anak.
Sasabihan ko kung sino man ang iyong ama.
Oo aking anak.

Sapagkat ikaw ang aking kaluluwa.
Ikaw ang aking pangalan at awit -

Ikaw ang aking kapayapaan!

Sapagkat kapwa kamatayan at paghihiganti ang kapayapaan.
At sa atin, dito sa Samar! Dito sa buong kapuluan!
Higanti ang makatarungang Himagsikan.

Ito ang aking natutuhan. Ito ang ituturo ko sa iyo.
At ito ang ating ibabanyuhay sa buong Samar.