MANILA – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), must surrender those behind the anti-personnel mine (APM) blast that killed a college football player and his cousin.
Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday said a mere apology without accountability is "unacceptable".
In a statement, Alvarez said the NPA's admission in the June 6, 2021 Masbate blast, which killed Far Eastern University football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin, Nolven, should conclude in justice and prosecution.
“The problem of insurgency has once again resulted in the deaths of civilians and a promising Filipino football player who could have brought more honor to our country,” Alvarez said.
He said it is only by allowing the perpetrators to face the courts that would permit the Absalon family and the whole nation to begin the grieving process.
“Until then, the NPA should be considered as harborer of criminals,” he said.
Alvarez noted that the deeper root of rebellion lies in the concentration of wealth in the "hands of a privileged few", which is brought about by a government structure that centralizes power in the National Capital Region.
He argued that a strong nation requires strong localities and regions as foundation, highlighting the merits of "true federalism" and how it can bring peace and progress to the countryside, particularly remote areas.
“This can only be achieved if local municipalities and provinces are empowered," he said.
The CPP-NPA reportedly vowed to provide the family of Absalon "full remuneration for their loss", which was rejected by Kieth's mother, Vilma.
Diwa Party-list Rep. Michael Aglipay echoed Alvarez' sentiments, saying if the NPA is truly sincere, those who are directly responsible should surrender and allow themselves to be prosecuted.
He said NPA's “apology” and promise to provide financial assistance to the family are "grossly insufficient".
"Anything less than that is merely a form of damage control on part of the NPA to salvage any sympathy towards them," said Aglipay, chair of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.
"Their supposed errors in the military action grossly violate both international humanitarian law," he added.
He enjoined all lawmakers across party lines to speak strongly against the crime committed, and demand that the perpetrators surrender to the authorities to face justice.
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Absalons. May Keith, Nolven, and all other victims of senseless violence stemming from armed struggle find eternal rest in the arms of the Lord," he said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)