CHR starts probe on death of Ericson Acosta, peasant leader in Negros Occidental


Posted at Dec 08 2022 03:59 AM | Updated as of Dec 08 2022 07:41 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Commission on Human Rights said Wednesday it has started an independent investigation on the death of poet-activist Ericson Acosta and his companion, Joseph Jimenez of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

In a statement, the CHR said its regional office in Region VII is already looking into the Dec. 1 incident in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

"It is expedient to probe the truth and deliver justice in all allegations of arbitrary killing that desecrate the right to life. As the State has the prime duty to protect life, CHR expects parallel probe by the concerned authorities," it said.

"We also request the cooperation of the AFP to ensure the conduct of a swift and impartial investigation," it added.

Progressive groups said Acosta and Jimenez were captured alive by soldiers but were later tagged as casualties of an encounter. But the Philippine Army said the two died after a firefight, adding firearms were recovered from the clash site. 

The CHR said it continues to underscore the need to adhere to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

"It is incumbent upon all parties, especially the State as duty-bearer, to comply with IHL rules and principles," it said.

"We shall consistently sound the alarm against deaths and arbitrary arrests of activists for such violations further entrench the climate of fear and impunity, which impact many fundamental freedoms and denigrate the dignity of many sectors, especially the most vulnerable ones," it added.

The CHR said it also received reports that the house of Ronald Francisco, a civilian, was allegedly strafed by soldiers. Francisco, his wife and three children were also allegedly taken to the headquarters of the 47th Infantry Battalion.

B/Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, called the National Democratic Front's claim as propaganda to get public sympathy. 

He said that what happened was a legitimate encounter. 

On Thursday, 3rd Infantry Division commander and acting Visayas Command commander Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo said the military cannot prevent the CHR from investigating the issue.
"We cannot prevent them to do what they have to do but we definitely deny that there is human rights violation in that operation," he said.

He said that although they are not happy about the CHR investigation, they understand that it is part of their job.

"Of course we are not happy to hear that. But sabi ko naman, it's really part of our job na, mayroong mga lumalabas na ganyan. But in the end, I think we will be proven right naman," Arevalo said.

The wife of Acosta, Kerima Lorena Tariman, was also killed in an encounter in Silay City last year.


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