MANILA—Human Rights Watch on Wednesday condemned the deaths of a labor leader and a football player after an explosive device planted by the New People's Army went off in Masbate over the weekend.
Union leader Nolven Absalon and Far Eastern University football player Kieth Absalon were riding their bikes along Purok 4, Barangay Anas in Masbate City when an improvised explosive device detonated early Sunday, authorities said.
Absalon was the leader of the Masbate Electric Cooperative Employees Union, according to labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa.
"The killing of a labor leader and a football player by an IED planted by the New People’s Army shows the terrible threat such weapons pose to all civilians," HRW said in a statement.
"The use of anti-personnel landmines, which are prohibited in the Philippines under the Mine Ban Treaty, is a war crime. Those responsible are subject to criminal prosecution not just in the Philippines but in courts around the world."
The Philippine National Police on Monday launched manhunt operations against perpetrators behind the suspected IED blast.
The victims' family said they believed the victims were also shot as they called for justice.
Only Nolven's son, who was with them at the time, survived the incident.