Award winning poet and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Ericson Acosta was murdered by the military Wednesday morning in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, a rebel spokesperson announced.
NDF-Negros spokesperson Bayani Obrero said in a statement that Acosta and a companion were captured alive at around two o’clock in the morning of November 30 but were announced as casualties in a “fake encounter” a few hours later.
Obrero belied the announcement made by the 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) that the bodies of two New People’s Army (NPA) members were “found” at the site of a second firefight between government troopers and the revolutionary group in Sitio Makilo, Barangay Camansi in the said city.
In an earlier announcement, the government unit said that they, along with the 47th IB-PA, fought against 10 NPA fighters twice in a span of 15 minutes that resulted in the discovery of two dead rebels, presumably Acosta and his unnamed companion.
The government troopers said the insurgents were earlier involved in a series of gunfights in Carabalan, Himamaylan City in October.
The NDF in Negros however said Acosta and companion were summarily executed as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ “despicable policy of taking no prisoners in their counter-insurgency campaign.”
“Twisting truths cannot cover the fact that butchers 94th Infantry Battalion and 47th Infantry Battalion captured NDF Consultant Ericson Acosta and his companion, a peasant organizer, alive around 2:00 this morning,“ Obrero said.
Obrero said Acosta was in southern Negros to consult on the situation of farm workers as one of the NDFP peace consultants working on social and economic reforms.
Acosta attended the formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in 2017 in Italy and The Netherlands.
Acosta, first arrested in February 2011 in Samar Island, regained freedom two years later.
A highly-regarded writer, singer and actor, he later won a National Book Award for his first poetry collection “Mula Tarima Hanggang at iba pang mga Tula at Awit” published by the University of the Philippines Press in 2015.
He was a former culture editor of The Philippine Collegian.
He is survived by a son with fellow poet, actor and campus journalist Lorena Kerima Tariman who was similarly killed in what the military described as an “encounter” in Silay City, Negros Occidental in October 2021. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)