communist insurgency

CPP-NPA takes responsibility for killing of labor leader, UAAP football player in Masbate

Aika Rey

MASBATE BLAST. This file photo shows members of New People's Army.

Rappler file

'There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family,' says CPP-NPA

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed unit New People’s Army (NPA) took “full responsibility” for the killing of a union leader and his cousin in an explosion in Masbate.

On Sunday morning, June 6, union leader Nolven Absalon and his cousin Kieth, former UAAP football juniors most valuable player, were killed in a blast while biking along Barangay Anas in their hometown Masbate City. Nolven’s 16-year-old son was wounded in the incident.

In a statement on Tuesday, June 8, the CPP-NPA expressed its “deep remorse” for the Absalon family, due to what it said was “errors in military action mounted by an NPA unit.”

“The entire CCPP and NPA take full responsibility for the tragedy. There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family,” CPP said.

“We fervently hope that the Absalon family, their relatives and friends, and the entire Filipino people can accept our profoundest apologies, self-criticism, and willingness to extend any appropriate form of indemnification,” CPP said.

An investigation into the “errors and weakness that led to the tragedy” is underway, added CPP.

“In waging a people’s war, the New People’s Army is always reminded to give the highest priority to the protection of civilian lives and property. In this regard, the Masbate incident should not have happened,” it said.

Calls to end fighting

Labor group Sentro, the umbrella organization of Nolven’s union, demanded justice for the Absalons’ death and condemned NPA’s attack.

“Weapons of war have no place in roads used extensively by civilians,” Sentro said.

“While the government would no doubt use this incident as propaganda material against the communist insurgency, Sentro expresses its strong opposition to the militarization of the countryside, whether the units are of the AFP/NP (Armed Forces of the Philippines or national police) or the NPA,” it added.

The labor group also called for an end to the fighting, calling on both the government and the CPP to “restart peace negotiations.”

“To maintain warzones in civilian areas is to deny, limit, and undermine the ability of the people in these places to participate in governance, form their own associations, as well as be involved in local decision-making processes,” it said.

President Rodrigo Duterte formally ended peace talks with the Left in November 2017.

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Negotiations bogged down when Duterte and exiled communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison could not agree on a venue. Duterte had insisted it should be in the Philippines, while Sison said it should be anywhere but in the country, fearing he would be arrested when he lands home.

In 2020, Duterte rejected anew the possibility of pursuing any peace talks.

‘They will face consequences’

The Bicol divisions of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines condemned the attack as well.

“[A] bright future [awaited] the Absalons had it not been for this terrorist group’s wickedness. But we are confident that they will all face the consequences of their crimes,” said Army Major General Henry Robinson, Jr., commanding general of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, in a statement on Tuesday.

“We do not tolerate terrorism. We are giving these evildoers two options: to keep their lives or to die fighting against our troops, who are scouring every nook and cranny of Masbate province just to find them,” the region’s top military commander added. – with reports from Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.