Court orders arrest of Joma Sison, wife, 36 others over NPA ‘purging’

Exactly five days before the commemoration of the Inopacan massacre in Leyte by surviving families whose loved ones were among the hundreds of victims killed in a mass execution perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the 1980s, a Manila court has ordered the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairperson Jose Maria “Joma” Sison and 37 others including rebel group leaders and members.

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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.

Also included in the arrest warrant are those charged with 15 counts of murder in connection with the Inopacan massacre, namely:

  1. Rodolfo Salas alias Ka Bilog — former CPP chair who was arrested in 1886 and granted an amnesty in 1992 by former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos;
  2. Leo Velasco – NDFP consultant for the peace process; 
  3. Jose Luneta — co-founder of Kabataang Makabayan and former CPP secretary general secretary; passed away in Germany on May 1, 2018;
  4. Geronimo Pasetes;
  5. Prudencio Calubid – NDFP peace consultant;
  6. Luis Jalandoni — NDFP senior adviser;
  7. Sarmiento Eduardo – NDFP consultant;
  8. Francisco Pascual, Jr.;
  9. Mil Lominion;
  10. Fortunato Felicilda;
  11. Benjamin Beringel;
  12. Quirino Quinawayan;
  13. Fernando Rachel;
  14. Pecario Sonana;
  15. Jesus Solayao;
  16. Lino Salazar;
  17. Alfredo Taladro;
  18. Tito Gabar;
  19. Muco Lubong;
  20. Felix Dumali;
  21. Ciriaca Malimot;
  22. Luzviminda Orillo;
  23. Anselmo Balduhesa;
  24. Alfredo Mabingay;
  25. Bertino Oroza;
  26. Bonifacio Padoc;
  27. Rodrigo Paplona;
  28. Prescillono Beringel;
  29. Anastacio Dorias;
  30. Nick Ruiz;
  31. Sammy Labarda;
  32. Charlie Fortaliza;
  33. Luis Villena;
  34. Rolando Caballera;
  35. Donata Lumbrento; and
  36. Luz Abejo.

The Court’s arrest warrant came following an order issued by Judge 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.

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, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)

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