MANILA — The Philippine Army (PA) on Thursday named National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant and poet-activist Ericson Acosta as among the fatalities in an encounter in Negros Occidental and denied claims he was killed after being captured alive.
"The undeniable fact is that Ericson Acosta and his comrade engaged the army troopers in an encounter. It is unfortunate that they were neutralized in the said encounter," the PA's 3rd Infantry Division said in a statement.
The Philippine Army did not include the identities of two alleged communist rebels who died in the said encounter in Kabankalan City when it reported the incident that happened dawn of Wednesday.
It was the NDF-Negros and other progressive groups that said Acosta was killed by government forces, alleging that he was first captured alive.
According to the group, Acosta was in the province to check on the situation of farm workers and share developments on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms (CASER).
The 3rd ID belied the claim, saying that CASER was "non-existent."
"The Philippine government is not engaged in any form of peace negotiations with the CPP-NDF-NPA terrorist organization nor does this government intend to negotiate with the CPP-NDF-NPA in the future," it said.
"The government does not give a scant attention to the CASER nor does it recognize the existence of any consultant of the NDF," it added.
The 3rd ID also reiterated that the government's only policy is "the unconditional surrender of all members of the CPP-NDF-NPA under the localized peace engagements within the NTF-ELCAC Framework."
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr. has said Acosta was an editor of the Philippine Collegian, the student publication of 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; a theater actor and songwriter; and a National Book Awardee for poetry.
He 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.