MANILA – Youth and civic organizations will mark the 40th day of the passing of college and national football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven by way of a nationwide cycling event dubbed "Bike for Justice and Peace" on July 17.
Undersecretary Joel Sy-Egco, Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson, announced the activity on Monday during a virtual press conference.
“On July 17, bikers from all over the country will gather in their respective provinces to participate in the Bike for Peace and Justice for Kieth Absalon,” Egco said.
Absalon, 21, was cycling with a group that included his 40-year-old cousin, Nolven, when an anti-personnel mine exploded by the roadside in Masbate City on June 6.
Nolven also died while his 16-year-old son sustained injuries.
The cycling event is initiated by youth groups that include the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through our Youth (Pointy Inc.).
Pointy president Christian Kier Betito said their group joins the call to end violence that victimizes the youth.
He said the youth sector is susceptible to false ideologies propagated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“These ideologies have the capability of destroying the moral depth of the youth, influencing them into aggression and rebellion which result in the dismantling of families, destruction of cultures, and leading them to engage in armed conflict,” Betito said during the briefing.
He said Pointy has been active in different peace initiatives of the government, especially in the Caraga Region and in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao).
Working at the grassroots, he said, opened their eyes to how the youth and even indigenous peoples' communities suffer because of the CPP-NPA.
“Ito pong pagkamatay ng cousins na ito is an eye-opener sa lahat. Hindi lamang sa mga kabataang Pilipino kung hindi sa buong mundo na kahit inosenteng buhay po puwede pong galawin ng CPP-NPA at National Democratic Front (The death of these cousins is an eye-opener for us and the world that the CPP-NPA and National Democratic Front [NDF] can harm even innocent people),” he added.
The NPA owned up to the Abasalons’ death but the family rejected the apology.
Angelito Cainday, program coordinator of the International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP), will also join the event.
He said that together with NYC, the IAYSP conducts regional youth forums to spread awareness on the deceptive recruitment of communist terrorist groups.
“Sumusuporta kami dito sa proyektong ito para ipakita na nawala man si Kieth pero ginising niya iyong damdamin ng mga kabataang Pilipino na kailangan nating pagtulungan ito lahat para talagang matigil na ito (We support this project to show that even if we lost Kieth, he awakened the youth that we should all help end this),” Cainday said.
Cainday also advised the youth that love for country cannot be expressed through armed conflict or fighting the government.
Instead, the youth should help the government in the development of the country.
“Hindi natin kailangan ng armed revolution. Kailangan natin ng heart revolution. Kailangan nating i-revolutionize iyong puso natin hindi iyong armas (We do not need an armed revolution. What we need is heart revolution. We should revolutionize our hearts, and not take up arms),” Cainday said.
He added that those who cannot join the cycling event can at least light up candles to remember the Absalons.
The CPP-NPA is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)