MANILA— The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday urged the armed communist wing New People's Army (NPA) to identify and surrender those responsible for the mine blast in Masbate that killed 2 innocent civilians, as calls of justice for the victims mounted.
CHR's statement echoed those of the military, the Department of National Defense, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which had also called on the communists to turn over their members liable for the tragedy on Sunday, which they have since acknowledged and owned up to.
The blast killed football player Kieth Absalon, 21, and his cousin, Nolven, a father of 4, on Sunday morning.
"They (NPA) should identify all those responsible and surrender them to the lawful authorities to face justice within the court system," the statement from the commission read.
"They should likewise be accountable for all other crimes they have perpetrated in violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws since they began pursuing this armed conflict."
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) vowed to have an internal probe over the incident but refused to surrender their members, saying they are under their "authority."
"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," the statement from CPP on Wednesday read.
The communist party, however, promised to provide the Absalon kin "full remuneration."
But the CHR said if the communists were truly sincere and serious about taking accountability for the tragedy, "beyond owning responsibility, offering indemnity, and promising an investigation," they should turn over their members.
The agency earlier launched an investigation on the IED blast, adding that it "strongly condemns" the use of anti-personnel landmine because it violates International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
The communist movement has continued to figure in skirmishes with government troops, especially following the collapse of peace negotiations with the Duterte administration.
The Absalon family is demanding justice for the tragedy. Malacañang earlier in the day said those responsible for it would pay.
Kieth played for the Malaya Football Club and the Far Eastern University football team.
He was part of the FEU-Diliman Baby Tamaraws that won numerous UAAP Juniors Football Tournament, culminating in a Most Valuable Player award in 2016, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) had said in a statement.