MANILA - The family of football player Kieth Absalon, who died from a suspected IED blast in Masbate City on Sunday together with his cousin, wants justice as they also believe the victims were shot.
"Mahirap isipin at tanggapin ang nangyari sa kuya at sa pinsan ko. Hindi nila deserve," the footballer's sister Nathalie said in a statement on Monday.
(It's hard to accept what happened to my brother and cousin. They don't deserve it.)
"Hiling na lang po ng buong pamilya na makamit ang hustisya," she added.
(Our entire family is calling justice.)
Authorities alleged the supposed improvised explosive device that went off and killed Absalon, 21, who played for the Malaya Football Club and the Far Eastern University football team, was set up by the New People's Army.
Absalon, his cousin Nolven Absalon, 40, and the latter's 16-year-old son were riding their bikes along Purok 4, Barangay Anas in Masbate City when the blast happened around 6:45 a.m. Sunday.
Local police said they came from Barangay Nursery and were supposedly heading to their relatives in Barangay B. Titong.
Only Nolven's son survived the incident.
"We believe na hindi po sila namatay dahil lang po sa landmine (they didn't just die because of the landmine)," Nathalie said.
"Based on my parents and relatives statement and sa pictures na din po, meron pong bakas ng bala na makikita (there are gunshot wounds), which is the main reason why they died."
"Makikita yung bakas ng bala sa mukha ng kuya ko at sa ulo at maging sa likod ng pinsan ko (There are gunshot wounds in my brother's face and head, and my cousin's back)," she added.
Nathalie said Nolven's son, who was injured in his hand, is scheduled to undergo surgery Monday.
"This might be a mere accident, they ran into the IED recklessly planted (by NPA rebels)... Their target are probably the uniformed personnel," Maj. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the Bicol Regional Police, said on Sunday of the incident.
"No other group would do this but the NPA," she added.
Kieth was a standout for FEU's boys' football team, having been named Most Valuable Player of the juniors division in Season 78.
He was also a part of the national team that competed in the 2018 AFF Under-19 Championship in Indonesia.
Kieth was a starter for the FEU men's football team in Season 82 before their campaign was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- with report from Jonathan Magistrado