Autopsy: Ericson Acosta injured way before fatal shots, after he already died

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant and celebrated poet Ericson Acosta was shot both on his front and back, bolstering claims by various activist groups he and peasant leader Joseph Jimenez were actually killed execution-style by the military.

In a press conference Saturday, July 29, forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun said Acosta died from hemorrhagic shock resulting from chest wounds that lacerated his lungs.

But Fortun added that Acosta may have been shot way before his fatal wounds and after he died, based on the wound on his right hand that had severe hematoma as well as a back wound that lacerated the aorta at his lumbar area but did not bleed.

“It seemed the shots were fired at different times…On his hand, that was way before the fatal shots,” she said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Fortun underscored that Acosta’s wound from the left side of the torso was probably fired when he was already dead.

“He should have bled profusely (from that laceration of the aorta). He was probably dead by then,” the expert explained of the wound that also shattered two thick vertebrae.

“He had so many wounds and these were in clusters,” she said, adding that Acosta also had edema on his right thigh.

Fortun also explained that Acosta’s wounds on his upper right arm that was earlier reported as stab and hack wounds resulted from exiting bullet wounds.

“He must have had his right arm close to his chest,” she said.

READ: NDF-Negros: Military murdered peace consultant-poet Ericson Acosta

Fortun and University of the Philippines College of Medicine colleague Patricia Ann Franco conducted the autopsy on Acosta’s remains last December 5, five days after he and Jimenez were killed in Kabankalan City, Negros Oriental in what the military claimed was a firefight with the New People’s Army (NPA).

Acknowledging the limitations imposed on an autopsy procedure after embalming, Fortun bewailed that they examined Acosta’s remains after his wounds have already been sutured.

She also noted that the white shirt Acosta’s body was wearing when it arrived in Manila was not the blue shirt he was wearing on the photographs the military posted online.

“There is no independent, immediate and scientific investigation conducted at the scene. That is the problem in this country as far as forensic pathology is concerned,” Fortun complained.

Photo of the poet by the Free Ericson Acosta campaign.


In their announcement of Acosta and Jimenez’s deaths last November 30, National Democratic Front-Negros spokesperson Bayani Obrero said the victims were killed by the 94th and 47th infantry battalions of the Philippine Army.

The government troopers first strafed the house where the victims were sleeping in and later killed them outside, Obrero said.

Obrero also denied there was a fire fight with the NPA at Sitio Makilo, Barangay Camansi were the victims were killed.

In a separate statement, human rights group Karapatan said Acosta and Jimenez were actually captured alive by the military at 2 AM last November 30 and were taken 200 meters away from the house to be executed.

The 94th Infantry Battalion is also accused of having massacred the Fausto family last June 14 and having killed farmer Crispin Tingal last May 3 in Kabankalan City.

READ: Mission reports AFP responsible for Fausto massacre, other killings

After the release of the autopsy report on Acosta, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) again called for an independent investigation of the killings.

“The militarization and killings in Negros must stop. We call on human rights defenders and the people to fight the increasing trend of fascist terror in the countryside of Negros that has resulted in the deaths of many peasant organizers and masses,” BAYAN president Renato Reyes Jr. said.

“There is armed conflict in Negros but this cannot be solved by militarist means. The social roots must be addressed for there to be a just peace,” Reyes added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Mission reports AFP responsible for Fausto massacre, other killings

A national solidarity mission reported government soldiers were responsible for the killing of the Fausto family and other farmers in Negros Island.

Visiting Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental last Thursday, June 22, to independently probe into the recent killings of farmers in the province, Kabataan Party Rep. Raoul Manuel and members of progressive organizations said state forces are committing and actively covering up human rights violations in the province.

In a press conference Friday, the mission said it found a “similar pattern” in the killing of four members of the Fausto family last June 14 and the killing of farmer Crispin Tingal last May 3.

READ: CHR urged to probe killing of a farmer in Negros Occidental

“It (was) a culmination of a series of harassment, destruction of properties, violation of domicile, illegal search and red tagging that was similarly inflicted on the Tingal family who barely escaped a pattern of attacks, from red tagging to massacre,” the mission said.

In their visit to Himamaylan, the mission reported that the military and the paramilitary with blocked out nametags tried to block their way to Barangay Buenavista but said they were able to document several human rights violations committed by the military and the police.

The mission said the residents reported there have been at least three incidents of frustrated killings; three incidents of illegal arrest; a case of enforced disappearance; threats, harassment and intimidation; violation of domicile; destruction of livelihood; use of public space for military purpose; endangerment of civilian populace; attacks on schools and disruption of classes for two weeks after a military attack; and indiscriminate firing and red tagging.

‘None of it new’

The mission’s press conference and announcement came a day after Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Lacson, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police (PNP) held their own press conference announcing they have witnesses to prove the New People’s Army (NPA) was responsible for the killing of the Fausto family.

Himamaylan City police chief Reynante Jomocan said they have “judicial affidavits” from witnesses claiming 15 armed men killed the family, led by an alleged NPA squad leader.

Mission participant and Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) chairperson Ariel Casilao however dismissed the police and military’s claims, saying reports on the ground say otherwise.

“Stories of coercion, in which witnesses are forced to testify and follow a script provided by the PNP to paint the NPA as perpetrators, have been shared with us. And sadly, none of this is new: what happened to the victims and survivors of the Sagay massacre—blamed for the very attack perpetrated on them—is a testament to the PNP’s same old modus operandi,” Casilao said.

Mission participant and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Negros Occidental Bishop Virgilio Amihan said they are heartbroken by the growing numbers of widows and orphans due to “the devastating impacts of extrajudicial killings” that affect families and communities in his diocese.

“As shepherd of the flock, we call to bring it comes of the brutal and barbaric killings of the Fausto’s and put the perpetrators behind bars to end the widespread EJK in the Island of Negros,” said Bishop Amihan.

The Faustos were IFI members.

Official investigations

Kabataan Party Representative Raoul Manuel announced that the Makabayan bloc has filed on June 19 House Resolution 1091 calling on the House Committee on Human Rights to investigate the massacre of the Fausto family.

Manuel said that the resolution is the first filed by Makabayan on the civilian killings in Negros, saying that even without a formal declaration, martial law is practically in effect in the militarized areas of the island.

The mission also urged the Commission on Human Rights, the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate to conduct an impartial investigation of reported human rights violations in Negros.

“(We call) for an end to “the relentless attacks on farming communities not only in Himamaylan and Kabankalan but in the whole Negros Island,” the mission said.

“Families experience loss of livelihood, severe trauma, especially among children, and a grave violation of their freedom of association. Farmers who cultivate the land and feed the nation deserve peace, justice and the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” it added.

Bishop Amihan added that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) must resume peace negotiations.

“Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law violations in the GRP-NDFP armed conflict create many victims…Let us move forward to the negotiating table and resume the resume the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks,” Amihan urged. # (Raymund B. Villanueva, in Bali, Indonesia)

Negros Bishop pleads for justice for Faustos; NDFP accuses AFP as child killers

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said they mourn the “horrifying” deaths of the Fausto family killed last Wednesday, June 14, in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental allegedly by government soldiers.

In a petition released last Sunday, the prelate in neighboring Negros Oriental said he implores local and national government institutions to ensure justice for the victims and hold accountable those responsible for the massacre.

Brutally killed in their hut were Roly Fausto (55), his wife Emelda (50) and their children Ben (15) and Ravin (12) who had been repeatedly red-tagged and by the military weeks before their deaths.

Quoting a report by local human rights group September 21 Movement, Alminaza joined many organizations in identifying the Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion as alleged perpetrators of the “heinous act.”

READ: IFI Bishop, groups denounce massacre in Negros

“Our hearts are heavy as we witness the escalating militarization under the current (Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) administration,” Bishop Alminaza said.

The bishop also blamed Executive Order 70 issued by former president Rodrigo Duterte institutionalizing the so-called whole-of-nation approach in the government’s counter-insurgency program and creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for the incident.

“The’ whole-of-nation approach’ advocated by the (NTF-ELCAC) has led to the weaponization of ‘red-tagging’, armed harassment, and senseless killings,” Alminaza said.

Alminaza offered a prayer as a plea for justice in his petition.

‘AFP are child killers’

Meanwhile, the Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC) of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as child killers for the deaths of minors Ben and Ravin.

NDFP-SPOC head and NDFP Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma, a native of Negros Occidental, said her office vehemently condemns the “brutal massacre” by the said military unit.

“This heinous act is a blatant violation of the rights of the child and the special protections under international humanitarian law,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma said child rights violations have sharply increased under the Marcos Jr. government with reports of kidnappings, threats, forced evacuation, violence and murder.

In Negros Island alone, the NDFP has documented at least 22 cases of state violence involving children between the period of 2020 to 2022, Ledesma said, citing a special report by the Communist Party of the Philippines’ official organ Ang Bayan.

“The killing of the Fausto children and their parents exposes the AFP once more as lawless and mindless child killers. As commander-in-chief of the criminal, corrupt and brutal AFP, Marcos II is directly responsible for its war crimes against the Filipino people,” she said.

Ledesma also criticized the AFP for its penchant to blame the New People’s Army (NPA) for its reported crimes against civilians.

Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Battalion commander B/Gen. Orlando Edralin told reporters in a briefing last Thursday it was the NPA that killed the Faustos.

Edralin claimed that Roly had become a military asset prior to his death.

“Pinning the blame on the NPA is an old and tired tactic the AFP uses to escape accountability for its crimes against the people. Confirmed reports stated that on 22 March, both Emelda and Rolly Fausto were interrogated and harassed by military agents,” Ledesma however said.

“Even prior to the incident, the AFP has red-tagged the Fausto family, slaughtered their livestock, and ransacked their property in attempts to force admission of ties to the NPA,” she added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA: Military massacred civilian family in retaliation for camp raid

The massacre of a family in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental was carried out by the 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) and the citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in retaliation for an attack on the local paramilitary camp, the New People’s Army (NPA) said.

The NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command (MCC) said Rolly and Emelda Fausto and their two minor children were killed by the soldiers and the paramilitary the day after a “harassment operation” was conducted against the local CAFGU camp last June 13.

“[The operation] resulted (in) several casualties on the side of the military troops within the camp. This was the reason behind their brutal retaliation on civilian farmers who they suspected as NPA supporters,” NPA’s South Central Negros Guerilla Front spokesperson Dionesio Magbuelas said.

Magbuelas said that the 94th IB has in fact been planning and preparing to butcher the Fausto family for some time.

He revealed that the MCC had received complaints from other residents in the area about threats to their personal safety after the military broadcast names of suspected NPA supporters on radio.

The military list included Rolly Fausto, Magbuelas said.

The military’s radio program, hosted by a Johnrey Hilado, also often insinuated that Rolly fed and supported the NPA.

“This was a form of red-tagging that put Rolly Fausto and others at risk,” Magbuelas said.

History of threats against the victims

A month ago, the Fausto family has been subjected to harassments and threats, and their home was ransacked by the 94th IB, mainly soldiers assigned to the Hilamonan and Mahalang detachments, the MCC said, a report corroborated by initial reports by local human rights group after the massacre last Wednesday, June 14.

The NPA unit was also notified by other residents that three suspicious persons, including a military asset who was a rebel returnee, also previously spied on the Fausto house.

Meanwhile, 303rd Brigade commander B/Gen Orlando Edralin denied government troops massacred the Faustos, claiming Roly was their asset.

Edralin alleged that it was the NPA who killed the family.

Magbuelas however laughed off Edralin’s allegations, adding the general only humiliated himself before reporters when he made the denials.

“How can one be a military asset when an individual was repeatedly threatened and tortured, and his house was ransacked just recently?” Magbuelas asked.

Human rights reports said that Emelda complained to their farmers’ organizations of the soldier’s ransacking of their house.

READ: IFI Bishop, groups denounce massacre in Negros

“The people know the dirty record of killings and the various forms of abuses perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the 303rd Brigade,” Magbuelas said.

“The people will be the judge. Due to the consecutive extrajudicial killings, such as the case of Crispin Tingal Jr. and now the Fausto family massacre, (the military) can no longer deceive the public even if they shed buckets of crocodile tears to get the sympathy of the very people who are victims of their atrocities,” the MCC spokesperson said.

More denouncements

Meanwhile, activist groups held a condemnation rally in front of the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City last Friday, demanding swift and impartial investigations of the massacre.

Human rights defenders call for justice for the victims of the Kabankalan Massacre and a stop to the killing of civilians. (Photo by Jek M. Alcaraz/Kodao)

The groups said accusations and reports of the military’s hand in the gruesome murders must be looked into.

The national alliance for women Gabriela said the massacre is a gross violation by the AFP as it targeted non-combatants.

The group also pointed out that the military committed a grave violation of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Protection of Women in Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.

In a separate statement, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said investigating authorities should also look into human rights violations under the lock down imposed by the military in nearby Himamaylan City.

UMA said the military imposed a media blackout on the status of 15,000 evacuees, downplaying their assault on seven farm workers, strafing of 15 Tumandok households, and looting of civilian homes.

The group reported at least 21 farmers have been victims of extrajudicial killings under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government.

“[We are] worried the Fausto massacre marked the beginning of another spate of killings on the island,” UMA chairperson Ariel Casilao said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)