De Lima orders withdrawal of case vs cultural worker-A A +A
Thursday, January 31, 2013
JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima ordered Thursday the Provincial Prosecutor of Samar to file a motion to withdraw the criminal case filed against cultural worker and poet Ericson Acosta before a local court for illegal possession of explosive.
Acosta, 40, was arrested in Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar, in 2011 by a group of Army men belonging to the 34th Infantry Battalion on February 13, 2011, on suspicion that he is a member of the New People's Army.
He has since been in custody until the Samar court recently allowed him a medical furlough for treatment of a myriad of kidney ailments. The poet-activist is currently at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.
In a resolution on the petition for review filed by Acosta's lawyer, the Department of Justice reversed the ruling of the Provincial Prosecutor of Samar, which found probable cause against him, citing irregularities in his arrest, detention and turnover by the military to police authorities.
The DOJ held that the provincial prosecutor's finding of probable cause against Acosta hinged on the presumption of regularity of the acts of the complainants, but the application of such presumption is not warranted in this case.
"Despite the existence of such presumption (of regularity), the high court has consistently held that any taint of irregularity that affects the performance if an official's duties effectively negate that presumption. Moreover, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty cannot by itself overcome the presumption of innocence, nor constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt," the resolution, penned by Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, stated.
Among the irregularities noted by the DOJ was the fact that Acosta was not immediately brought to the nearest police station or jail upon his arrest, as required under Section 3, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. In fact, Acosta was only brought to the police two days later, and he was not read his rights nor was he allowed to contact his people or his lawyer to inform them of his arrest.
The DOJ further pointed out that there was never a proper inventory of the alleged "grenade" taken from respondent Acosta, when there should have been some record that would document how, where, when and from whom such grenade was taken.
"In the instant case, the grenade seemed to have just been produced out of thin air, so to speak," the DOJ said.
The DOJ held that the provincial prosecutor gravely erred in resting entirely on the word of Acosta's arresting officers without affording him his right to due process.
"The criminal due process rights of an accused are not suspended on account of the place and/or circumstances that exist before, during and after an arrest. An accused such as Acosta is entitled to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, among others," it further said.
Acosta's legal counsel Edre Olalia welcomed the DOJ's ruling, which basically declared that his client had been arrested and detained for 23 months on mere trumped-up charges.
"We hail the resolution as it finally officially exposed the trumped-up charge of illegal against our client who has suffered already a gross injustice. Somehow, it brings some renewed hope again that dogged pursuit of justice and persistent efforts to right a wrong can still be rewarded ultimately," Olalia said.
Olalia, who is a member of the National Union of People's lawyers (NULP), further said that Acosta's case should bring hope to many others who are politically persecuted, thrown in jail on false or fabricated charges through legal shortcuts and hocus-pocus, and made to indefinitely wait in anguish will get their own well-deserved freedom. (JCV/Sunnex)