Robredo condemns use of landmines behind death of Absalon cousins

Robredo condemns use of landmines behind death of Absalon cousins

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday condemned the killing of an athlete and a labor leader by landmine earlier this week.

This comes after the Communist Party of the Philippines took responsibility for the "unnecessary" killings of football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven Absalon, who accidentally ran over an improvised explosive device when they were out biking.

In a statement sent to reporters, Robredo slammed the use of landmines in the killings, calling it a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.

"It is a violation of the law, of human rights, of the rules of war, and of our very understanding of the limits of what man can do to his fellow man," Robredo said in Filipino.

"It is not a struggle; it is out of the question of our desire to end the conflict. Landmines are murder. We condemn this incident without qualification."

Under International Humanitarian Law, the use of landmines is restricted "to minimize their indiscriminate effects."

Absalon, 21, represented the country when he played for the national team in the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Under-19 Youth Championship held in Indonesia.

"Whatever the cause of the explosion, there were not any accidents in the matter of landmines. There is a reason why there has long been a global consensus on these types of violence," the vice president also said.

"It is prohibited under the Ottawa Treaty, as there is no place in civilized society for a non -lethal weapon. It is not humane. No goal or ideology can justify the use of such devices."

The entire CPP and NPA express deep remorse and take full responsibility for the untimely deaths of cousins Kieth and Nolven Absalon resulting from the errors of an NPA unit in a military action last Sunday in Masbate City. pic.twitter.com/VPzEBOhgU4

— Marco L. Valbuena (@marco_cpp) June 8, 2021

Lawmakers call for resumption of peace talks

In a statement, Sen. Francis Pangilinan called for the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels, saying genuine and lasting peace remains the best option rather than violence.

"We hope the doves in the Cabinet would prevail to bring to fore the need for genuine peace as paramount and must be pursued right away," Pangilinan said.

He added that "peace and prosperity will address the root problems of insurgency and usher in sustainable development, especially in the countryside."

President Rodrigo Duterte formally ended peace talks with the National Democratic Front in 2017 following on-and-off negotiations where both parties could not settle on a venue.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also condemned the "senseless violence that took innocent lives" and called for justice for the killings.

"Now that the CPP-NPA has taken full responsibility, a swift accounting of this appalling tragedy is now in order. The perpetrators must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," she said.

"Someone has to answer. The families of Keith and Nolven deserve justice. No family should ever have to endure this overwhelming loss," she added.

"Let this be a gripping reminder that the casualties of war are first and foremost innocent civilians caught in the crossfire," Akbayan Party-List, of which Hontiveros is chair, also said in a statement.

We call for justice for the deaths of SENTRO union leader Nolven Absalon & FEU football player Kieth Absalon. Let this be a gripping reminder that the casualties of war are first and foremost innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

Full statement: https://t.co/4RHQbStIYFpic.twitter.com/3fKE2hnsdF

— Akbayan Partylist (@AkbayanParty) June 8, 2021

NTF-ELCAC calls for public trial

“Now that the CPP/NPA has accepted full responsibility for the senseless murder, it now becomes their duty to turn over the terrorists responsible for the deaths so that justice maybe served to their families and loved ones,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano.

Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar earlier Wednesday called on the CPP to "surrender the perpetrators of the unfortunate incident."

Eleazar also disclosed in a statement that all police units have been tasked to be on alert for possible attacks, citing the possibility that the CPP leadership has ordered the intensified attacks against the PNP.

Rights monitors along with the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives have since condemned the killings.

"There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family," the CPP said in its statement earlier.

Franco Luna

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