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CHR to probe deaths of NDF consultant Ericson Acosta, companion

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will launch its own investigation into  the deaths of National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Ericson Acosta and a peasant organizer in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, an official said Friday.

“Yes, we will [conduct a motu proprio investigation],” CHR commissioner Jacqueline de Guia told GMA News Online in a text message.

Human rights groups alliance KARAPATAN called on the commission to look into the incident after the NDF-Negros reported that Acosta and his companion Joseph Jimenez were killed in a military operation on Wednesday.

Based on the initial report of the NDF-Negros, KARAPATAN secretary-general Cristina Palabay said it indicated Acosta and Jimenez were captured alive as of 2 a.m. of November 30 in Sitio Makilo, Barangay Camansi in the city but were later tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)  as casualties in a “fake encounter” hours later.

Residents also said that the bodies of the two bore stab wounds, she said.

For his part, AFP Spokesperson Medel Aguilar earlier dismissed the NDF’s report as “lies” and said the group was trying to discredit the military. He also said reports that the victim sustained stab wounds are “fabricated”.

“They are too good and fast in fabricating stories,” Aguilar told GMA News.

According to Palabay, Acosta was in Kabankalan City to consult on the situation of farm workers in the southern Negros Occidental and share developments on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

She added that “the reported killing of Acosta and Jimenez violates the NDFP-GRP Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, as well as Republic Act No. 9851 on crimes against IHL, genocide and other crimes against humanity, which protect the rights of both civilians and parties to an armed conflict”.

KARAPATAN also called on authorities to respect the rights of the deceased families and their legal representatives as they try to access and claim the remains of Acosta and Jimenez.

“Karapatan expresses our condolences to the families of Acosta and Jimenez, and we are one with them in their call for justice. State forces in the communities should be pulled out, with numerous reports of IHL violations of State forces that have not been addressed in the past,” she said.—LDF, GMA Integrated News