AFP welcomes CHR’s probe on killing of NDF consultant but denies human rights violation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomed the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) investigation on the killing of National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Ericson Acosta and his companion but continued to stand by their own account of events.

AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar on Thursday acknowledged that it is the CHR’s job to probe the death of Acosta and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) member Joseph Jimenez, despite the military’s clarifications that it was a result of a legitimate encounter.

“We welcome the initiative of CHR. CHR is our partner in many activities like seminars to inculcate among our soldiers our duties to protect human rights,” Aguilar told reporters.

On Wednesday, the CHR said its Region VI office will do an independent probe and asked the AFP to cooperate to ensure the conduct of a swift and impartial investigation.

“We cannot prevent them to do what they have to do but we definitely deny that there is human rights violation in that operation,” said Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 3rd Infantry Division commander and acting Visayas Command chief.

Aguilar also said they trust their soldiers and he saw “no reason for our soldiers to lie.”

The Philippine Army earlier reported there were two unidentified bodies in an alleged clash between the military and communist rebels in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental at 2 a.m. of Nov. 30.

Various groups have condemned the AFP for what they say was a “brutal slay,” with the NDF Negros Chapter tagging the two peasant rights advocates as “casualties of a fake encounter.”

Aguilar earlier said that being an NDF consultant did not make Acosta “naïve and harmless.”

CNN Philippines senior correspondent David Santos contributed to this report.