Kieth Absalon, a former UAAP juniors Most Valuable Player, and his cousin died not just from an NPA landmine explosion but of gunshot wounds, according to the footballer's death certificate.
The death certificate, a copy of which was obtained by ABS-CBN News, showed the immediate cause of death as hemorrhagic shock with underlying case as "gunshot wounds & blast injuries." A source close to the family said the same injuries were found on Kieth's cousin Nolven Absalon, 40, father of 4.
Absalon's death certificate cited the place of death as Barangay Anas, Masbate - the site where an improvised explosive device planted by communist rebels exploded Sunday morning.
A police report also cited a witness who said that the explosion was "followed by a series of gunshots targeting victims namely Nolven Absalon and [Kieth] Absalon who sustained...injuries caused by the explosions and gunshot wound."
Authorities earlier said the New People's Army planted the IED that went off while the victims were cycling in the area, supposedly heading to their relatives in Barangay B. Titong.
The family of Kieth earlier said they believe the victims were shot.
"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," the footballer's sister Nathalie 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 Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, have taken full responsibility for the IED blast, saying the incident was a result of "errors in the military action mounted by an NPA unit in Barangay Anas."
"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 and Nolven Absalon "should not have happened". It added that it is conducting an internal probe over the incident.