Masbate land mine blasts kill 2 civilians who were ‘mistakenly identified as military’
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — Two persons were killed, one of them a university star football player, while five others, including a retired Ombudsman investigator, were wounded in separate land mine explosions in the cities of Masbate and Legazpi on Sunday.
Col. Joriz Cantoria, Masbate provincial police chief, said in a report that Kieth Absalon, 21, of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws men’s football team, and his cousin Nolven Absalon, 40, were killed by a land mine blast in Barangay Anas in Masbate City at around 6:45 a.m. that also wounded Nolven’s 16-year-old son, Chrisbin Daniel.
The victims were biking with relatives when the improvised explosive device, allegedly planted by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area, detonated.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., the military’s Southern Luzon Command chief, said the explosive that killed the Absalons was an “antipersonnel mine” that was “command detonated.”
FEU Athletics, in a statement, mourned the death of Kieth, a multiawarded midfielder, who was named most valuable player of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines in 2016 and who competed in the 2018 Asean Football Federation Championships in Indonesia as a member of the Under 19 Philippine team.
“Kieth’s toughness on the field and constant smiles off it will truly be missed by his brothers in the men’s football team and the entire FEU community,” FEU posted on its Facebook page on Sunday.
Lt. Col. Steve dela Rosa, Masbate City police chief, said they were still investigating the incident. But Keith’s father, Nathaniel, believed the rebels mistook his son and nephew for soldiers.
“They were mistakenly identified as military,” Nathaniel said in a phone interview on Monday.
Nathaniel’s brother Domingo Jr., 48, who along with his slain nephews was in the group of seven bikers, said he was behind them by about 700 meters when he heard the blast. He first saw Chrisbin Daniel with wounds in his hand.
He then proceeded to the blast site with some residents and found his relatives in the grassy area. Aside from the multiple shrapnel wounds in their bodies, Kieth had a bullet wound in his head while Nolven had two bullet wounds in the back and head, he said.
Kieth was training to join a bike race in the province in July, his father said.
In Legazpi City, the capital of Albay province, four were hurt when their car hit a land mine allegedly planted by the NPA along the road on Sunday.
Capt. Ronnel Cabagnan, chief of Civil-Military Operations of the Army’s 31st Infantry Battalion, said Romeo Mariscotes, 38, and wife Visitacion, 40; an 11-year-old girl; and lawyer Merda Paterson, a retired Ombudsman investigator, were aboard a car traveling in Sitio Tico-Tico, Barangay Homapon, when their vehicle was hit by an explosive device at around 10 a.m.
The victims were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
—REPORTS FROM MA. APRIL MIER-MANJARES, MAR S. ARGUELLES, DELFIN MALLARI JR. AND JULIE M. AURELIO
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.