DND, AFP on landmine death of Absalon, cousin: ‘It’s bound to happen’
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the death of footballer Kieth Absalon and his cousin in a landmine explosion set off by communist guerrillas was an expected outcome of the guerrillas’ continued use of landmines in violation of international laws.
The DND and AFP also expressed doubt about the sincerity of New People’s Army (NPA), the armed component of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), in its promise to give justice to the family of Absalon, who had become the latest civilian casualty of an insurgency that has been lingering for more than 50 years already.
CPP, in a statement, had taken “full responsibility” and expressed remorse for the death of Absalon and announced it was conducting an internal investigation.
But the DND, also in a statement, said nothing was likely to come out of the CPP investigation.
“It is abhorrent that after taking responsibility for the deaths of Keith and Nolven Absalon, the CPP-NPA has the gall to pretend that they will conduct their own internal investigation, which, in reality, will never result in any kind of justice for the bereaved families,” said DND spokesperson and director Arsenio Andolong in the statement.
“The deaths of the Absalon cousins are, unfortunately, just two cases in the long list of crimes committed by the CPP-NPA,” said Andolong.
“We, therefore, call on the Filipino people to unite and condemn the atrocities, and reject the flawed ideology touted by this communist terrorist group,” he said.
Andolong said the explosion that killed the cousins was not a mere “tactical error” as claimed by the CPP leadership.
“The use of these anti-personnel mines that killed the Absalon cousins is actually a matter of procedure for these terrorists who are bent on inflicting death and damage to lives and property,” he said.
“The CPP-NPA’s persistent use of landmines is a clear violation of International humanitarian law,” he added.
AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo voiced concern on the “rampant use” of anti-personnel mines (APMs) by communist rebels.
“Here and elsewhere in the world, this practice of using APMs have long been banned under international humanitarian law,” said Arevalo. He said the AFP has stopped using these weapons “but not this terrorist group.”
He said the military had recorded 141 cases of production, stockpiling, transporting, and use of anti-personnel mines by rebels in the last 10 years. These had been reported already to United Nations and other international and local bodies, Arevalo said.
He said in an attempt to “appease the families of the victims,” rebels said sorry and expressed readiness to indemnify the family. “This remains to be seen,” Arevalo said.
An improvised explosive device planted by the NPA went off at the village of Anas in Masbate City last Sunday (June 6), killing Kieth Absalon, a football player of Far Eastern University, and his cousin, labor leader Nolven Absalon.