All democrats should vociferously condemn in no uncertain terms the brutal murder of poet and activist Ericson Acosta., a prominent member of The National Democratic Front. Ericson was assassinated with a peasant companion in Kabankalan, Negros. Ericson was captured alive but later executed. Actually no firefight was exchanged. The manner of the killing follows the trend of a series of executions projected as “encounters” and “firefights” perpetrated by the Philippine military. Ericson left behind, son Eman, his mother Liwayway and in-laws Pablo and Merlita Tariman. Testimony of how the fangs of the Philippines government are getting more poisonous day by day, resurrecting neo-fascsim of the 1970’s.
He had been conducting research in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, consulting farmers on their living and working conditions when he, along with Joseph Jimenez, another peasant organizer, was captured by elements of the 94th and 47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and then killed. The military attempted to cover up the murder by projecting him as an armed combatant at the time of his death. Locals said no firefight nor encounter had occurred.. Ericson and his companion were unarmed.
Ericson got his political baptism in the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He became the editor of the Philippine Collegian, a former chair of Alay Sining, former chair of political alliance STAND UP, a former member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, theater actor and songwriter, and a National Book Awardee for poetry. He was also a political prisoner from 2011 to 2013. He was released from detention after the Department of Justice lifted the charges with which he was framed of illegal possession of firearms and explosives filed against him.
During the peace talks in 2016-2017, he played an important role as an NDF consultant for the drafting of the agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and participated in the formal peace talks and discussions of the reciprocal working committees.
Even before directly embarking in the peace talks as an NDF consultant, Ericson underwent a long spell of activism dating back to his days at the University of the Philippines. In 2011 he was arrested in San Jorge, Samar, being framed for illegal possession of explosives. For its lack of any credibility and various technical shortcomings.the DOJ withdrew the case in 2013. Upon his release, Ericson reverted to peasant organizing and research in Central Luzon and other parts of the country. He was arrested again in 2013 along with other agrarian reform advocates in Hacienda Luisita.
Ericson was amongst the finest products of the UP student movement. Till his last breadth as an artist he endeavoured in the service of the people, especially the poor peasants. Unflinchingly he stood firmly on revolutionary principles and served the people relentlessly, galvanising them even in the depths of despair. He joins his wife Kerima Tariman as a revolutionary martyr. Their memories will survive like an inextinguishable flame. Ericson’s words and songs will reverberate in the heart of every worker, peasant, student and artist who dares to dream and aspires to fight for a better world. The state security forces will do their level best to extinguish his memory and brand him a “terrorist” .However the people who know Ericson, most notably the poor farmers of Bicol, Samar and Negros, recognise him to be a true stalwart of the Filipino people.
Ericson’s death is part and parcel of the fascist offensive of the government to mercilessly y eliminate all dissent. Targeting of unarmed activists has become a routine feature. Revolutionaries are eliminating in contravention of international humanitarian law. The unconditional suppression of all forms of dissent is a means of preserving the oppressive social order. A proper investigation must be undertaken and the culprits brought to the book.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has extensively studied Liberation movements.