Army identifies NPA leader killed in Kabankalan clash

The Army releases a photo of Ericson Acosta linking him to the NPA following his death in Barangay Camansi, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of 303rd IBde)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – One of the two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels killed in a clash with military troopers in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday was identified as a top rebel leader in Negros.

The Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) identified him as Ericson Legazpi Acosta alias “Raffy,” a native of Ligao City, Albay.

The Army said that Acosta is the husband of Kerima Tariman, also an alleged NPA leader killed in an encounter with the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Silay City in August 2021.

Based on the revelations of former NPA rebels, Acosta was an alleged deputy secretary of Komiteng Rehiyon- Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KR-NCBS) and head of the Political Unified Committee (PUC) of the NPA in Visayas.

Earlier this year, Acosta also reportedly assumed as first deputy secretary of Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, following the arrest of Ramon Patriarca with aliases “Usting” and “Chino,” acting secretary of Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros.

Acosta and his wife were allegedly deployed by the National Organ of the NPA in Negros island in 2018 to oversee the NPA’s Regional Party Committee in Negros because of the internal squabbles and problems inside the NPA organization and also due to the dwindling political cadres in Negros island, according to the 303rd IBde.

Being the head of the Political Unified Committee (PUC), Acosta was also an alleged member of the Pambansang Kalihiman sa Edukasyon (PAKED), which automatically makes him a member of the Executive Committee of the KR-NCBS, the Army said.

He allegedly orchestrated numerous NPA atrocities in Negros island, particularly the ambush of policemen in Binalbagan town early this year and other NPA activities, the Army said.

Based on the informants and former rebels, Acosta also reportedly conducted numerous NPA political trainings in different hinterland areas and communities in Negros island to revitalize both the NPA and their Politico-Military Organizations (Underground Organizations).

However, for Ka Bayani Obrero, spokesperson of National Democratic Front (NDF)- Negros, Acosta was one of the NDF consultants deployed in Negros, particularly in Kabankalan City, to consult on the situation of farm workers in the southern part of the province and share developments regarding the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

NDF Negros, in a statement, said “the Filipino people has lost a revolutionary, propagandist, poet, songwriter, journalist, and thespian.”

Acosta and another rebel identified as Albert Jimenez alias “Tantan,” whom the NPA identified as a peasant organizer, were killed in two clashes with 94th IB and 47th IB in Barangay Camansi on Nov. 30. The troopers responded to an alleged extortion of NPA rebels when the encounters happened.

The 94th IB identified the other slain rebel as Joseph Jimenez, based on his identification card, but Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd IBde commander, said that Joseph and Albert Jimenez are only one person.

NDF-Negros condemned the 94th IB, 47th IB, and the 3ID for the said killings, which they claimed to be victims of “summary execution from a fake encounter.

In a statement, Pasaporte said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA-NDF will churn out propaganda statements in order to generate sympathy from the community whenever they suffer major setbacks.

“Obviously, they will always claim that there was no firefight or encounter whenever the situation does not favor them,” Pasaporte said.

“The death of Acosta and Jimenez is a result of the local residents’ vigilance and their full trust in the government,” the 303rd IBde said.

The encounter also manifests the continuing loss of support of the NPA in the communities, according to the Army.