Updated 4:39 p.m., Sept. 6, 2019
MANILA — Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), lambasted the “fake charges filed against him, his wife and several others over the alleged communist purging.”
In a report by the government-run Philippine News Agency, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 ordered the arrest of Sison, Juliet de Lima and 36 others. Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina issued the warrant on Aug. 28 after finding probable cause that the “accused committed the offense as charged in the amended information.”
In a statement, Sison said that he was still under maximum security detention by the Marcos dictatorship at the time of the fake Inopacan massacre.
Sison was arrested in November 1977 and was released from military detention on March 5, 1986 soon after the overthrow of Marcos.
“The long drawn Inopacan case of ‘walking skeletons’ is a cruel joke at the expense of patriotic and progressive activists,” Sison said.
Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said the bones were collected by General Hermogenes Esperon from various cemeteries during the time of Arroyo in order to make his “legal offensive” and persecute the opponents of the Arroyo regime.
Like Sison, other respondents in the case such as Satur Ocampo and Vicente Ladlad were also in detention at the time of the supposed “mass killing” in Leyte in 1985.
Also included in the list were victims of enforced disappearances such as Leo Velasco and Prudencio Calubid. Eduardo Sarmiento, meanwhile, is detained at the National Bilibid after having been convicted of trumped-up charges.
One of them, Jose Luneta, is already dead.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, Public Interest Law Center (PILC), legal counsel of some of the respondents to the case, dubbed the move as “fishing expedition.”
PILC said the prosecution moved for the issuance of warrants of arrest against 41 individuals, including Satur Ocampo, Rafael Baylosis, and Randall Echanis pursuant to the amended information dated June 19, 2014.
“The motion came as a belated maneuver, filed when the cases are now at the trial stage and after the presentation of more than 25 witnesses,” PILC said.
The court has earlier denied the issuance of new arrest warrant against Ocampo, Baylosis and Echanis.
“It has become all too obvious that the prosecution is desperate and hell-bent on putting all accused in jail. The prosecution’s motion is obviously nothing more than an attempt to have critics of the Duterte Administration jailed despite the fact that the cases stem from a clearly trumped up charge initiated 13 years ago by the PNP, military, and the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG),” Rachel Pastores of PILC said.
For Sison, “the current news splash about the fake Inopacan murder charge is intended by the Duterte regime to draw away public attention from the scandalous release of 2,000 criminals convicted of drug trading, murder, rape and other heinous crimes.”
Noting the filing of trumped-up charges against critics, Sison maintanted that Duterte is “preparing for the mass arrest of people who oppose his antinational, antidemocratic and antipeople policies and actions.”
“But the probable mass arrest and even the murder of the opponents of the regime will fail to intimidate and silence the people,” he said. “The broad masses of the people are already fed up with this regime and are on the verge of rising up to cause its downfall.”