MANILA - Progressive groups said poet and National Democratic Front consultant Ericson Acosta was killed Wednesday by military forces in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.
According to the NDF-Negros, Acosta and a peasant organizer were captured alive by personnel of the Philippine Army's 94th and 47th Infantry Battalions in Barangay Camansi "and, few hours after, tagged them as casualties of a fake encounter."
"Ka Ericson was here in Negros, particularly in Kabankalan City, to consult on the situation of farm workers in the southern part of Negros Occidental and share developments regarding the (Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms). He was one of the NDF consultants working on the CASER," Ka Bayani Obrero, spokesperson of NDF-Negros, said in a statement shared by the Philippine Revolution Web Central Twitter account.
In a separate statement, the 94th said an encounter ensued between its personnel along with those of the 47th IB against suspected New People’s Army rebels in Barangay Camansi at 2 a.m. after local residents supposedly complained about alleged extortion activities by suspected insurgents.
It said two rebels were later found dead, although no names were provided. Several firearms and ammunition were also reportedly recovered.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr. said Acosta was an NDF consultant for the drafting of the agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and participated in the formal peace talks and discussions of the reciprocal working committees in 2016 until 2017.
He was a Philippine Collegian editor in the University of the Philippines, a former chair of Alay Sining, former chair of political alliance STAND UP, a former member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, theater actor and songwriter, and a National Book Awardee for poetry, said Reyes.
Acosta was a political prisoner from 2011 to 2013, and was released from detention after the Department of Justice junked the charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives filed against him, added Reyes.
His wife, Kerima Tariman, was also killed reportedly in a clash with the military in 2021.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the murder of our dear friend, poet and activist Ericson Acosta," Reyes said.
- with a report from Angelo Angolo