Peasant leader may have been killed with bladed weapon: rights group


Posted at Dec 05 2022 04:20 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2022 01:40 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) – The body of a peasant organizer killed in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental bore marks indicating that a large bladed weapon may have been used on him, a human rights group said Monday.

On Nov. 30, progressive groups claimed that National Democratic Front consultant Ericson Acosta and his companion Joseph Jimenez 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."

Pete Pico, chairperson of Human Rights Advocates Negros, said Jimenez’s wife saw her husband’s body in the funeral parlor and noted that he had large wounds on the side of his body.

“Bakit may mga maraming sugat, malalaking sugat yung kanoyang asawa? Kasi pinuntahan niya ito sa punerarya, nung nga bandang alas otso ng umaga. At nakita niya mismo yung mga malalaking sugat sa tagiliran ng kaniyang asawa,” Pico said.

(Why did her husband have many wounds, large wounds? Because she went to the funeral parlor at 8 a.m. and saw her husband had wounds on the side of his body.)

Asked how the wounds looked like, he answered, “Posible po yung malalaking kutsilyo ito kasi malalaking sugat ito sa tagiliran… At hindi lang po isa, dalawang malalaki at marami pang sugat sa ibang bahagi ng katawan ng biktima, si Joseph.”

(These were possibly caused by a large knife. There are 2 large wounds on the side of his body. And he also had wounds on other parts of his body.)

Pico insisted that no armed firefight took place between the activists and military personnel.

“Ang sinabi kasi ng aming mga kasama doon sa human rights advocates and defenders doon sa south Negros, yung September 21 Movement--at sila po yung nasa field, dito kami sa Bacolod--sinabi nila talagang walang encounter na nangyari.”

(Our companions in south Negros, in the September 21 Movement who are on the field, as we're here in Bacolod, said no encounter happened.)

“Kasi early in the morning, mga ala una yun eh, ala una, sabi nila, wala namang malaking putukan, o kaya yung barilan na nangyari kundi isang putok lang. Ang alam nila eh, nagkaroon ng strafing tapos bumaba yung mga dalawang tao, at mamaya-maya konti ay wala na, namatay na yung dalawa,” he said.

(It happened early in the morning, about 1 a.m. They said there was no firefight. Or they heard a single gunshot. They know a strafing happened, two people went down, and then later on, the two victims were already dead.)

“Unarmed yung dalawa. Walang baril. Kaya hindi maaaring magkaroon ng encounter,” he added.

(They were unarmed. So it's unlikely there was an encounter.)

Pico appealed to the Commission on Human Rights to send a doctor as soon as possible so the bodies of Jimenez and Acosta can be subjected to an autopsy.

“Si Joseph, ay sa 14 pa daw available yung CHR Manila doctor para mag-autopsy. Pero ililibing na yun sa December 11. Kaya sabi ko, sana dalian naman ng CHR para bago ililibing ay makita na talaga kung anong mga sugat at anong dahilan kung bakit namatay ‘tong si Joseph,” he said.

(The CHR Manila doctor who will conduct an autopsy on Joseph will arrive on December 14. But he will be buried on the 11th. We hope the doctor can arrive sooner.) 

He also appealed to government to properly investigate the killings of Acosta and Jimenez.

“I am challenging you na imbestigahan ito pong nangyayari sa kay Acosta at sa kay Joseph po… The more pinapatay niyo at tinatakot yung mga tao, the more na sila po ay becoming... stronger because they cannot allow na sila po ay tatakutin,” he said.

(I am challenging you to investigate what happened to Acosta and Joseph... The more you kill and scare people, the more they'll become stronger because they will not allow themselves to be silenced.)

But the Armed Forces of the Philippines insists that their men conducted combat operations in the area.

"They were conducting operations, combat operations so that we can flush out the reported armed group that they were conducting extortion activities in the area," said spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar.

"So the report came from the residents of the area," he added.

Aguilar refused to comment on the claim that Jimenez appeared to have been hurt by a large bladed weapon.

"I can’t comment on that yet because we don’t receive yet, shall we say, official report on the wounds that you are saying."

--ANC, 5 December 2022