Activist and poet Kerima Lorena Tariman died on Friday, August 20, in a clash between the New People’s Army and the Philippine military’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Silay City, Negros Occidental.
Tariman, who was a former managing editor of the Philippine Collegian, was 42. She is survived by her husband Ericson Acosta and their 18-year-old son.
Her death was confirmed by her father, writer Pablo Tariman, through a Facebook post on Saturday, August 21, that included her dates of birth and death.
He also included a passage his daughter wrote from Ilagan, Isabela, in 2001: “The first time I went to the countryside to integrate with farmers, government troopers tried to show me firsthand how fascism, counterinsurgency, and psychological warfare work. As if to make sure I don’t forget, they gave me a minor grenade shrapnel wound, and a major, lingering fear of any man with a golden wristwatch who’d seem to loiter in public places to watch me.”
On Saturday, the Philippine Collegian shared Tariman’s work, originally published on August 3, 1998, titled “Talakayang-Buhay o ‘Panitikang Saksi’ ng Pambansa-Demokratikong Kilusan.“
In a short note at the end of the essay, the student publication remembered her for her work as a poet, researcher, journalist, and revolutionary, who fought for her husband’s freedom when he was arrested in February 2011. She also published a collection of poems, Pag-aaral sa Oras, in 2017.
In a report on Digicast Negros, Pablo said he saw a photo of her alive but wounded at the encounter site. He said the military “finished her off.” Her death was later confirmed to him by a friend of Kerima in Silay.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) also confirmed her death in a statement on their website. They also identified another rebel, Pabling, who died in the encounter.
They said: “Ka Ella, a leading Party cadre of the RJPC-NPA (Roselyn Jean Pelle Command-New People’s Army), hailed from Legazpi City, Albay. She was a renowned poet, writer, and revolutionary artist who chose to share the life-and-death struggle of the masses of Negros Island. She gave up her life to serve the people and the revolution.”
According to a report from the military’s 3rd Infantry Division, the encounter between troops from the 79th IB and around 10 NPA members happened at 6 am Friday at Barangay Kapitan Ramon, Silay City, Negros Occidental.
“A 35-minute firefight ensued after the troops responded to the reports from concerned citizens on the presence of armed men doing recruitment and wide extortion activities in the area,” the military said.
The military report also mentioned the death of two NPA members but did not name them. The military seized weapons, personal belongings, a radio with charger, medical paraphernalia, and “subversive documents.”
The report said a soldier sustained a gunshot wound to the head and was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival. – with reports from Jairo Bolledo/Rappler.com