A talented football player of the Far Eastern University and his uncle were killed when their bicycle hit an improvised bomb in Masbate City Sunday morning.
Bicol regional police spokesperson Maj. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib identified the victims as Keith Absalon, 21, who played for the FEU football team and the Malaya Football Club, and his uncle Nolven Absalon, 40.
Nolven's 16-year-old son was brought to the Masbate Provincial Hospital for treatment after getting wounded by shrapnel.
“This might be a mere accident. They ran into the IED [improvised explosive device] recklessly planted [by NPA rebels.] The targets are probably the uniformed personnel. No other group would do this but the NPA,” Calubaquib said.
The young Absalon won many awards as a high school athlete and has played for the national age group team.
“Kieth wasn’t just a player to us. He’s part of our FEU football family.
We are all grieving his loss. Messages in our chat group are clear: he will never be forgotten,” said FEU football program head Vince Santos in a statement.
Malaya Football Club, a non-profit organization that helps aspiring football players, said on its Facebook page: “Our hearts are broken as we bid farewell to another of our own. A born leader, always motivating and inspiring his U19 teammates even at their lowest during their games. A follower of the highest order, always willing and able to take on any position assigned to him by his coaches and perform his best.”
In previous interviews, Absalon, who has been playing since Grade 6 for the FEU, said he dreamed of turning pro and eventually becoming a member of the Philippine Azkals.
He was named Most Valuable Player in Season 78 of the UAAP and was part of the Philippine team that competed in the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation U-19 Championship in Indonesia.