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CHR to NPA: Surrender killers of Absalons
This undated photo shows FEU football athlete Kieth Absalon, who was killed with his cousin from an IED blast in Masbate on June 6, 2021.
Steve Mitra Absalon

CHR to NPA: Surrender killers of Absalons

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) backed the government’s call for the New People’s Army (NPA) to surrender those behind Sunday’s landmine explosion in Masbate that killed a college football star and his cousin.

“If the NPA is serious and sincere about taking accountability for the improvised explosive device killing of civilians in Masbate – beyond owning responsibility, offering indemnity and promising an investigation – they should identify all those responsible and surrender them to the lawful authorities to face justice within the court system,” the CHR said yesterday.

“They should likewise be held accountable for all other crimes they have perpetrated in violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws since they began pursuing this armed conflict,” it added.

The CHR earlier initiated an investigation on the incident, which killed Far Eastern University (FEU) football varsity player Kieth Absalon and his cousin, Nolven, 40, while they were riding bicycles. Also injured was Nolven’s 16 year-old-son.

It condemned the incident and said that the use of anti-personnel landmine is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), describing it as a senseless terrorist act that affects innocent lives.

“Not only do they cause exceptionally severe injuries, suffering and death, anti-personnel landmines also fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants, such as what happened in this case. We stress that even non-state actors, such as the NPA, are bound to respect IHL, alongside the government,” said CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier demanded that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA surrender the perpetrators after taking responsibility for the incident.

Duterte vows justice

Yesterday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said President Duterte has vowed justice for the deaths of the Absalon cousins.

“The President has heard the plea for justice of Keith’s family, including the claims that the victims bore bullet wounds. The President vows to have this investigated and those responsible will be held accountable,” Roque said in Filipino.

“We condole with the family of football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin, Nolven who died in an explosion owned up by the CPP-NPA. I repeat, the act of the CPP-NPA is an international war crime,” he said. “We strongly condemn this.”

Roque also echoed the CHR’s opinion that the CPP-NPA can be arrested, tried and punished under international law.

Col. Steve dela Rosa, Masbate police chief, said they are still getting vital information in order to build a strong case against the suspects.

The necropsy reports released by the city health office of Masbate stated that the victims were killed not only by the landmine explosion but also by bullet wounds.

Why did they do this to us?

Absalon’s father, Nathaniel, said he had no hint that something bad was going to happen to his son and nephew.

“We are a simple and peace loving family. But why did they (the rebels) do this to us?” he told The STAR yesterday.

A utility worker at the Department of Education (DepEd) Masbate City Division, Absalon’s father was at work when he received the news. He said Kieth had never mentioned anything that would suggest misfortune.

“At first I did not believe it. I know my son did not bear any grudge with anybody. He was a silent and kind person,” he said. “Our whole family was shocked at what happened.”

Absalon’s mother Vilma, said: “I could not believe we lost Kieth now. He was so jolly in our company before this horrible news shocked us.”

Nathaniel called on the NPA rebels to immediately put a halt to such senseless killings. “They have to stop these killings. We do not want to hear any similar horrible event to happen again,” he said.

PNP: No more peace talks

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar yesterday said resuming peace talks with communist rebels is a waste of time in the wake of their recent attacks.

“The PNP is for the attainment of genuine peace in the country but this group will never embrace the concept of peace. So, what’s the point of talking peace with them again?” Eleazar said.

Following the deaths of the Absalon cousins and the NPA’s admission of fault in the incident, Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago called for a resumption of peace talks between the government and the CPP.

But Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority challenged Elago to instead urge the NPA to lay down their arms and take the path of peace.

Pialago, spokesperson on public affairs and youth concerns for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, branded Elago’s call for the resumption of peace talks as a “smokescreen” and a “damage control” mechanism. – Christina Mendez, Cet Dematera, Emmanuel Tupas, Arturo Dumlao, Elizabeth Marcelo

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