MANILA - The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), have seemingly refused to turn over to the government the rebels responsible for the deaths of the Absalon cousins in Masbate City over the weekend.
In a statement Wednesday, the CPP said the communist unit behind the landmine blast that killed football player Kieth Absalon, 21, and his cousin Nolven, a father of 4, are "under the authority of the NPA."
"In line with the NPA’s rules, they can be meted out disciplinary action or punishment corresponding to their individual responsibilities and conduct during the incident," it said.
The statement came after the country's national defense and interior departments urged the NPA to turn over those who were responsible for the Absalons' demise, saying they should be accountable for the crime.
The rebel group earlier took "full responsibility" for the incident, saying it "should not have happened". It added that it is conducting an internal probe over the incident.
The Department of National Defense earlier condemned the "violence and senseless killing" perpetrated by the armed group, noting that the use of landmines is against international law, to which CPP admitted.
"Indeed, the unfortunate incident involves a breach of international laws of war and of the internal rules of the NPA which gives the highest priority to the protection of civilians at all times," it said.
The communist party promised to provide the Absalon kin "full remuneration".
"This process of indemnification will be accomplished in due time," it said.
But the families of the victims have refused to accept the rebels' offer, demanding justice for the tragedy.
"Hindi ko na kailangan ang tulong nila na galing sa kanila para lang ako babayaran? Hindi na po, ayaw ko na... Batas na lang ang humusga," said Vilma, Keith's mom.
Kieth was part of the FEU-Diliman Baby Tamaraws that won numerous UAAP Juniors Football Tournaments, culminating with a Most Valuable Player award in 2016, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) had said in a statement.
In 2018, he was called up to represent the Philippines in the AFF U-19 Championship which was held in Surabaya, Indonesia.
“It is heartbreaking to see a promising player’s future in Kieth Absalon cut short due to a terrible incident” PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr. said.