June 15, 2021 – Far Eastern University (FEU) football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin, Nolven, were laid to rest last Sunday, exactly a week after they were killed by gunfire and 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 service.
Youth from different student organizations notably sports clubs, ROTC and fraternities joined a preceding prayer rally at the Masbate City Social Center, carrying placards and tarpaulins bearing messages of condemnation for the gruesome murders of the Absalon cousins and other victims of communist terrorist violence.
Vilma Absalon, mother of Kieth and an elementary school teacher, and Yolina Ab salon, mother of Nolven, expressed their gratitude to the community for their support.
The Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) was represented by its commander MajGen Henry Robinson, Col Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander ng 903rd Infantry Brigade; LtCol Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander ng 2nd Infantry Batallion (2IB); officers and men of the Masbate Police Provincial Office (MPPO) and members of non-government organizations (NGOs).
In his eulogy, Rufino Arellano, a family friend, shared that Kieth “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.
“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, Crisbin Daniel, was also injured.
The Police Regional Office-5 (PRO-5) confirmed last 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.
“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,” Estomo added.
Meanwhile, MajGen Robinson Jr led members of the joint task force, in visiting Masbate City Mayor Rowena Tuason to thank her for her support in the overall campaign of the government to end this more than five-decade old armed conflict. (SPH/Ado Paglinawan)