Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the killing of an NDFP consultant and a peasant organizer in Negros Occidental

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the killing of an NDFP consultant and a peasant organizer in Negros Occidental

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), through our office in Region VI, has started an independent probe into the alleged extrajudicial killing of two advocates of peasant rights, namely Ericson Acosta, a consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and an award-winning writer, and his companion, Joseph Jimenez of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Based on initial news reports and the statement from Karapatan Negros chapter, Acosta and Jimenez were taken alive by personnel of the 94th and 47th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army in Sitio Makilo, Barangay Camansi in the city of Kabankalan on 30 November 2022 at 2:00 AM. They were later reported as casualties in an alleged encounter with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In addition, the house of Ronald Francisco, a civilian, was reportedly strafed by soldiers. Franciso, his wife, and three children were allegedly taken to the headquarters of the 47th Infantry Battalion. In response to the said reports, the AFP said that such claims are “propaganda to cover up for their tactical defeat to discredit the AFP.”

It is expedient to probe the truth and deliver justice in all allegations of arbitrary killing that desecrate the right to life. As the State has the prime duty to protect life, CHR expects parallel probe by the concerned authorities. We also request the cooperation of the AFP to ensure the conduct of a swift and impartial investigation.

CHR continues to underscore the need to adhere to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in situations of conflict. It is incumbent upon all parties, especially the State as duty-bearer, to comply with IHL rules and principles.

We shall consistently sound the alarm against deaths and arbitrary arrests of activists for such violations further entrench the climate of fear and impunity, which impact many fundamental freedoms and denigrate the dignity of many sectors, especially the most vulnerable ones. In line with the government’s unity agenda and crucial to the rebuilding process, we harp again our fervent clamor for equal protection and respect for the rights of all, regardless of socio-political affiliations and ideological beliefs. ###

#StopTheKillings