MANILA - The Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, on Tuesday took "full responsibility" for the IED blast in Masbate City last Sunday that killed football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin.
The CPP in a statement expressed their "deep remorse", saying the incident was a result of "errors in the military action mounted by an NPA unit in Barangay Anas" where the tragedy happened.
"The entire CPP and NPA take full responsibility for the tragedy. There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family," the communist group said.
The CPP said the deaths of Kieth, 21, and his cousin Nolven Absalon "should not have happened". It added that it is conducting an internal probe over the incident.
"The lessons that will be drawn should guide the NPA to avoid such unfortunate incidents in the future and strengthen its resolve to serve and defend the people," the group said.
Authorities earlier said the NPA planted the IED that went off while the victims were cycling in the area, supposedly heading to their relatives in Brgy. B. Titong.
Only Nolven's son, who was with them at the time, survived the incident.
"We fervently hope that the Absalon family, their relatives and friends, and the entire Filipino people can accept our profoundest apologies, self-criticism and willingness to extend any appropriate form of indemnification," the CPP said.
The family of Kieth, crying for justice, earlier said they believe the victims were shot. The footballer's sister Nathalie said they didn't just die because of a landmine.
"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," she said.
"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.
The Commission on Human Rights "strongly" condemned the use of anti-personnel landmine, saying 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 had said in a statement.
Kieth played for the Malaya Football Club and the Far Eastern University football team.
He 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.