TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines— A militant group in Eastern Visayas continued to press for the release of a researcher who was arrested and detained by the military on suspicion that he was a communist guerrilla.
Ericson Acosta, researcher for two nongovernment organizations in Samar, was arrested in San Jorge, Samar, on Feb. 14 by soldiers from the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion based in the same town.
Rogelio Berino, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Eastern Visayas, said the continued detention of Acosta was a violation of his rights.
Berino said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday that Bayan was demanding the release of Acosta “if the military truly knows and recognizes human rights in its true sense.”
Contrary to claims made by the military, Berino said Acosta was not a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Acosta, Berino said, was connected with the Alliance of Concerned Samareños and the farmers’ group Kapawa, both based in Samar.
The military, said Berino, fabricated charges against Acosta.
Col. Niceforo Diaz, information officer of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, said Acosta was no longer in military custody since a case against him for illegal possession of firearms and explosives is now at the Regional Trial Court Branch 41 in Gandara, Samar.
Soldiers claimed they seized communist documents, a hand grenade, a mobile phone and P4,000 in cash from Acosta.
“We have a basis for his arrest,” said Diaz in a phone interview on Wednesday. Acosta, said Diaz, is currently detained at the police jail in Gandara, Samar.