Rights groups denounce Absalons’ death in Masbate blast

FEU Advocate
June 11, 2021 12:41

By Mary Licel Biscocho

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) Philippines strongly condemned the unlawful use of anti-personnel landmines which killed the lives of Far Eastern University (FEU) student-athlete Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven Absalon.

In an statement dated June 7, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia asserted that the use of explosive devices which was planted by the members of New People's Army (NPA) violates the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as these induced severe injuries, suffering, and death and it "[failed] to distinguish between civilians and combatants."

"It is reprehensible that innocent lives continue to be taken because of senseless terroristic acts. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to the family and friends of the victims," the statement read.

CHR furthered that the government should take concrete steps to stop other occurrences that induce violence and violation of human rights.

Similarly, in a post released by HRW Philippines regarding the incident, senior researcher Carlos Conde stated that this action from the NPA is a war crime, showing a "terrible threat" which, in fact, is a violation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

"Those responsible are subject to criminal prosecution not just in the Philippines but in courts around the world," he added.

On June 8, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) published a statement and took responsibility for the "unnecessary death" of the 21-year-old football player and his 40-year-old cousin.

According to spokesperson Raymundo Buenfuerza, the device didn’t intend to hurt or harm civilians. He then asked for forgiveness from the family and the public.

As of writing, the party is already conducting further investigations about the incident for them to “strictly instill disciplinary action among the revolutionary command.”

Kieth and Nolven were killed on a landmine while cycling around their home in Masbate City last June 6. Nolven's 16-year-old son, who remains as the only survivor, also sustained injuries from the incident.