MANILA -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has expressed its elation over the decision of a Manila court to order the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder, Jose Maria "Joma" Sison, and 37 other individuals for their alleged involvement in the so-called Inopacan Massacre in Leyte on September 2, 1985.
"We are elated as the victims’ families are for the issue of arrest warrant by the court against Mr. Jose Ma. Sison, his wife, and 36 others for the mass murder by the NPA of people who were suspected of being government spies that claimed the lives of about 300 residents in Leyte province in a purging activity infamously dubbed by the NPA as 'Oplan Venereal Disease'," said AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in a message to reporters Friday.
While it is still early yet to claim victory, the military official said the AFP is happy as the wheels of justice have started to turn.
Arevalo also called the incident a "crime against humanity".
"We are, as ever, firm in our resolve to hunt down these terrorists who perpetrated this dastardly, cowardly, and devilish acts to serve the warrant and arrest them," he added.
Arevalo said the AFP is as devoted as other agencies of government to bringing Sison and his companions to the courts so that they can answer for the crime.
"As for those who are, like Mr. Sison, outside the country, we may not be able to serve the warrant right away as they are outside our jurisdiction. But we are not without recourse," the AFP spokesperson added.
In line with this, Arevalo said the military coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice, the International Police and other relevant agencies for the service of the warrant of arrest or other legal recourse available.
"We are sure that the long arm of the law will soon catch up on Mr. Sison and his cohorts," he added. Presiding Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 32 in Manila, issued the Warrant of Arrest dated August 28, 2019, against Sison with aliases Joma, Armando Guerrero, Armando Liwanag, and his wife Juliet, former National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiator, among others.
The arrest warrant came following an order issued by Medina on August 22, 2019, after finding probable cause that the “accused committed the offense as charged in the amended information”. No bail was recommended for the 38 accused.
Based on estimates of former rebels and the victims’ relatives, the Inopacan massacre or mass purging, dubbed by the NPA as “Oplan Venereal Disease”, claimed the lives of about 300 residents in Leyte province.
The families of purging victims, during the 12th commemoration of the massacre on September 2, continue to cry for justice for their loved ones who were summarily executed by communist rebels on the suspicion of their ties with the military.
Charges were filed in 2006 after the skeletal remains of 67 victims were exhumed from shallow graves in Subang Daku village, Inopacan town, Leyte on August 28, 2006.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)