By Connie Calipay
LEGAZPI CITY (Philippines News Agency) – Far Eastern University (FEU) football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin, Nolven, were laid to rest on Sunday, exactly a week after they were killed by an anti-personnel mines (APMs) explosion planted by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Masbate City.
Thousands of Masbateños, together with the families and loved ones of the victims, most of them in white shirts printed with “Justice for Kieth and Nolven”, joined the necrological service at the Masbate Baptist Church and the funeral procession in Barangay Kalipay.
“We need justice, justice for Kieth, justice for Nolven. Don’t ever put justice into your hands. Only the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police have the authority to execute justice. All we have to do is to wait. Let’s wait for it,” Pastor William Sajagon said during the Mass.
Rufino Arellano, a family friend, remembered the 21-year-old Kieth as a naturally talented athlete with a constant desire to improve, disciplined, focused, and aggressive.
“He had lots of determination, followed his coaches and loved his teammates, friends, and relatives,” Arellano said in his eulogy. “He respected his teammates, coaches, and referees but sad to say, ang mga naghimo sainda is walang respeto sa sainda, walang respeto sa buhay kan tawo, walang respeto sa (he was killed by people without self-respect, no respect for life, no respect for) humanity.”
Arellano, who works at the Department of Education and acts as tournament manager in competitions, said even players and coaches from schools he played against in the annual Palarong Pambansa wanted to attend the funeral but Covid-19 pandemic restrictions prevented them.
“Maybe the Lord is right when He gave you the awards because He is satisfied with how far you have come. I know you’re doing well. You’re the one who will guide us again. We love you!” Nathalie, Kieth’s younger sister who plays for the University of Santo Tomas football squad, posted in the vernacular on Facebook.
The victims were riding their bicycles when the APMs exploded in Purok 4, Barangay Anas village on the morning of June 6.
Nolven’s 16-year-old son was also injured.
The Police Regional Office-5 (PRO-5) confirmed in a statement on Sunday that based on a necropsy report from the Masbate City Health Office, gunshot wounds were found in the victims.
“The result showed that Kieth bore a gunshot wound to his right eye. His cousin, Nolven, had a gunshot wound to the right shoulder and another to the left thigh,” the statement read.
The report said the victims died from hemorrhagic shock, secondary to the gunshot wounds and blast injuries due to the APM explosion.
Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, PRO-5 Director, said the result showed how two innocent civilians suffered at the hands of the NPA.
“Isang pagpapatotoo sa kawalang pagpapahalaga ng mga rebeldeng ito sa buhay at kinabukasan ng publiko (A proof that those rebels have no respect for human lives),” he said.
The police and the Army 9th Infantry Division are working to attain justice for the Absalons, Estomo said.
“We are with the Absalon family and all the Bicolanos in finding justice. This is the right time to end the harassment and selfishness of NPA. We will not allow that more innocent lives will suffer in the wrong ideology of these rebels. (With reports from Ilene Panuyas-Alab Masbate/PNA)