Statement of CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the death of two individuals in Masbate due to a landmine blast and torching of a bus in North Cotabato

Statement of CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the death of two individuals in Masbate due to a landmine blast and torching of a bus in North Cotabato

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is now investigating the death of two innocent individuals due to a landmine blast in Masbate on Sunday, 6 June 2021. The victims are Keith Absolon, a football varsity player from the Far Eastern University (FEU) and his cousin, Nolven Absalon. Nolven’s son, 16 years old, also sustained injuries during the explosion.

A suspected anti-personnel landmine was said to have been detonated by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) while the victims were riding on a bicycle.

CHR strongly condemns this act. The use of anti-personnel landmine is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Not only do they cause exceptionally severe injuries, suffering, and death, anti-personnel landmines also fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants, such as what happened in this case. We stress that even non-State actors, such as the NPA, are bound to respect IHL, alongside the government.

In North Cotabato, CHR Region XII is also investigating the case of the burning of a passenger bus in Barangay Bialong in the municipality of M’lang. It was reported that at least three passengers died and six others sustained injuries perpetrated by still an unidentified perpetrator. The motive is also still being determined by proper authorities.

In both instances, it is reprehensible that innocent lives continue to be taken because of senseless terroristic acts. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to the family and friends of the victims.

All concerned agencies must work together to ensure that accountability is exacted from perpetrators. We stress that the government, in particular, bears the obligation to protect the rights of all, as well as pursue justice for the aggrieved. Concrete steps must also be done to stop further hostilities and to reduce violence in order to prevent further loss of lives and other forms of violations of rights. #ItigilAngPatayan