The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemns in the strongest possible terms the heinous killing of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Consultant Ericson Acosta by state forces in Kabankalan, Negros, early morning Wednesday.
Acosta, 50, a former political prisoner, a poet, and a staunch peasant advocate was reportedly captured alive and brutally murdered by elements of the 94th Infantry Battalion. According to initial reports, no encounter happened in the local village where the military claimed they clashed with a group of 10 armed NPA fighters in Sitio Makilo, Barangay Camansi, Kabankalan at around 2 am. Acosta’s companion, a still unidentified peasant leader, was also killed.
Acosta worked closely with the KMP during the 2016 to 2017 peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP that tackled the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). He served as a resource person for the Reciprocal Working Committee of the NDFP on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development. In 2018, he worked full-time in Negros to further aid farmers and hacienda workers with their local land struggles.
Acosta’s death in the hands of the mercenary AFP is unforgivable. We hold the 94th IB accountable for Acosta’s demise. His murder is the latest in the string of killings of NDFP consultants disguised as an encounter.
“The militarization of peasant communities in Negros must stop. Ever since the imposition of Memorandum Order No. 32, Negros became the laboratory of state fascism and terrorism. We demand the rescinding of this memo order,” according to KMP’s Danilo Ramos.
KMP Negros notes that under the immediate past regime up to the Marcos Jr. administration, there have been 110 documented victims of extrajudicial killings. Most of the victims were peasants in rural villages.
KMP strongly encourages the Philippine government under Marcos Jr and the NDFP to resume the peace talks as soon as possible for the sake of our people clamoring for genuine peace.
Acosta and his companion Joseph Jimenez of KMP-Negros were captured alive. They should have been treated under International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) but the AFP acts ignorant of the IHL. Peace consultants are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which states that peace consultants and peace panel members should be immune from arrests, detention, and harassment. Despite the suspension of formal peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP, JASIG has not been formally terminated by either party.
Acosta was the husband of the late poet-turned-rebel Kerima Tariman, who was killed by the military in Silay City, Negros in August 2021. They were editors of the University of the Philippines’ student publication Philippine Collegian in the 1990s. ##