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.
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.
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.
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)