EDITORIAL - Justice for the Absalons

EDITORIAL - Justice for the Absalons

(The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2021 - 12:00am

His school’s athletic director said he had the makings of an Azkal national football team player. Instead, at just 21 years old, life was snuffed out of Kieth Absalon, former most valuable player in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Juniors Football.

The former player of the Far Eastern University died along with his cousin Nolven Absalon last Sunday morning when their bicycles hit an improvised landmine planted by communist rebels in Masbate. Nolven’s teenage son was injured but survived the blast.

International humanitarian law, specifically the 1997 Mine Ban Convention, prohibits the use of landmines. The death of civilians in a landmine explosion can only justify the government’s classification of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army as terrorist groups under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Last Tuesday, the CPP-NPA took “full responsibility” for the blast and expressed “deep remorse over the untimely and unnecessary deaths” of the Absalon cousins.

Admitting that there is no justification for the aggravation suffered by the Absalons, the CPP-NPA expressed “profoundest apologies” and offered “any appropriate form of indemnification.”

The best form of indemnifaction would be justice for the Absalons. This can start with the turnover to the government by the communists of those behind the planting of the landmine. The CPP-NPA had attributed the tragedy to “errors in the military action mounted by an NPA unit in Brgy. Anas, Masbate City.” Clearly, the rebels have identified those responsible for the two civilian deaths.

NPA rebels are also being eyed as the culprits in the torching of a passenger bus last Thursday in M’lang, North Cotabato. Three passengers died including an 18-year-old boy and at least six others were injured when they were trapped inside the burning Yellow Bus Line unit, whose owner reportedly refused to give in to NPA extortion in the past.

Attacks on civilians show the bankruptcy of a cause. Unless the Absalon cousins get justice, all the “profoundest apologies” from the group behind their deaths will be nothing but empty rhetoric.

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