MANILA — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday launched its own investigation into the alleged landmine blast in Masbate City on Sunday that took the lives of athlete Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven, and wounded the latter's minor son.
Authorities are accusing the New People's Army (NPA) of planting the improvised explosive device that went off while Absalon, 21—who played for the Malaya Football Club and the Far Eastern University football team—and his relatives were cycling in the area.
Local police said they came from Barangay Nursery and were supposedly heading to their relatives in Barangay B. Titong.
The CHR said it "strongly condemns" the use of anti-personnel landmine, adding it violates the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
"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," the CHR said in a statement.
"We stress that even non-State actors, such as the NPA, are bound to respect IHL, alongside the government," it added.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA's political wing, sent its condolences to the Absalon family and said they are also conducting their own investigation.
"We extend deepest sympathies to the Absalon family for the deaths yesterday of cousins Keith and Nolven in an explosion in Masbate City. We are awaiting the results of the investigation into the incident being conducted by the NPA command in the area," said CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena in a tweet.
The NPA has yet to confirm or deny if they were responsible for the blast.
"It is heartbreaking to see a promising player's future in Kieth Absalon be cut short due to a painful incident," Philippine Football Federation president Mariano "Nonong" Araneta, Jr. said on Sunday.
Absalon's family is asking for justice.