AFP to work with DFA, DOJ, Interpol for arrest of Joma Sison

Robie de Guzman   •   September 6, 2019   •   2290

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it would work with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the International Police and other relevant agencies for the service of the warrant of arrest for Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

In a statement, AFP spokesperson Marine Brigadier General Edgardo Arevalo said they are ready to use available legal recourse to bring Sison and his cohorts to justice.

“We may not be able to serve the warrant right away as they are outside our jurisdiction. But we are not without recourse,” Arevalo said.

Sison and his wife have been in self-exile in the Netherlands for more than 30 years now.

“We are sure that the long arm of the law will soon catch up on Mr. Sison and his cohorts,” he added.

The AFP also expressed elation over the court’s issuance of arrest warrant against Sison, his wife and 36 other members of the communist group.

A Manila court on August 28 issued the warrant of arrest for Sison and company in relation with a murder case for the discovery of a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte in 2006. The site allegedly contained the bones of the victims of a mass killing by the New People’s Army in the 1980s.  

No bail was recommended for the accused.

The so-called “Inopacan massacre” was said to be a purging activity by the CPP of people in Leyte Province who were suspected of being government spies.

According to the AFP, around 300 people died in the incident which the NPA infamously dubbed as “Oplan Venereal Disease.”

“This is a crime against humanity. Though it’s too early to claim victory, we are happy for the Filipino people – especially for the families of the victims of this heinous crime – because the wheels of justice shall begin to grind,” Arevalo said.

The AFP official also promised to go after terrorists who perpetrated these “dastardly, cowardly, and devilish acts” to serve the warrant and arrest them.

“We are as devoted, as other agencies of government are, in bringing them to the bar of justice and answer for this crime most painful against the bereaved families of the victims who continue to live in a day-to-day anguish,” he said.

Duterte names PH Army commanding general Gapay as next AFP chief

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay as the next chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

According to a document addressed to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte signed Gapay’s appointment letter on Tuesday, July 28.

Gapay is the current commanding general of the Philippine Army.

His designation will take effect on August 3.

Gapay will replace AFP chief General Felimon Santos Jr. who is leaving the service as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on August 4.

Duterte to meet with AFP, PNP commanders following Jolo incident

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fly to Mindanao to meet with top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the wake of the killing of four soldiers by policemen in Jolo, Sulu last Monday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday.

Año, however, did not disclose the date and place of the president’s upcoming meeting with police and military commanders.

The Interior Secretary, who supervises the PNP, also said that Duterte may possibly talk to nine policemen involved in the shooting of soldiers.

“The president is going to the south to talk to our PNP and AFP commanders, sabi ko nga kung may time pa siya ay kakausapin niya yung mga suspek,” Año said.

Malacañang said the president was saddened by the incident between the police and military officers.

He has also ordered for the National Bureau of Investigation to expedite the release of its probe findings.

The Palace also denied that the incident is the result of the alleged state-sponsored extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration as claimed by former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Hindi po natin kinukunsinte ang patayan kaya nga po masinsinang imbestigasyon ang ginagawa natin dito sa pagpatay sa 4 na sundalo sa hukbong sandatahan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Año echoed Roque’s statement as he assured that those responsible for the Jolo incident will be held accountable.

“Extrajudicial killing is not the policy of this government and the Sulu incident, we will exact justice and make sure those responsible shall be accountable, umasa kayo diyan. Ako mismo ang personal na nag-follow up ng kaso,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

AFP to assess tactics, procedures after Jolo incident

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it will review its existing protocols to see if these are in need of improvements following the unfortunate incident involving a group of policemen and soldiers in Jolo, Sulu.

In a statement, AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said the AFP chief of staff General Felimon Santos Jr. and Philippine National Police chief Police General Archie Gamboa have agreed to revisit each Technique, Tactics, and Procedure (TTPs) to “determine if these are current and are followed religiously to prevent the incident from happening again.”

On Monday, June 29, four soldiers were killed after they were accosted by local police officers.

The Philippine Army earlier said the four men, who were wearing civilian clothes, were on an official mission when they were spotted by police officers on patrol.

When questioned by cops, the four men allegedly introduced themselves as members of the AFP. They were then asked to proceed to the Jolo Municipal Police Station for verification.

However, initial police report said the soldiers attempted to escape prompting police to give chase. When the men got off their vehicle, they allegedly pointed their firearms at the police, which prompted the cops to fire at them, resulting in their death.

But Philippine Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay criticized the spot report of the police, calling it “fabricated,” and “full of inconsistencies.” He also tagged the incident as a “rubout” and “murder” after noting that the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers.

According to Arevalo, Gapay’s comments on the incident were based from “a learned evaluation of information” that were presented to him.

“His point of view is supported by spot reports and eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the SUV boarded by the four intelligence personnel,” he said.

While there is an initial result of the autopsy, Arevalo said the AFP will not reveal it yet to avoid preempting its announcement.

The slain soldiers were given military arrival honors when their remains were brought at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Tuesday afternoon.

“We share the grief of LTGen Gapay and his call for an impartial and thorough investigation and his quest for justice as he minced no words in calling for accountability and liability for those involved in the incident,” he added.

Arevalo also shared that as a way forward and apart from the yearning for justice, AFP chief Santos has tasked members of the staff and subordinate commanders to ensure that these soldiers who died in line of duty will be given the assistance, benefits, and entitlements due them.

The military also hopes for a swift yet thorough investigation of the incident, with the express cooperation of the PNP and the AFP.

“While we are in search for truth and justice, we are also mindful not to allow the enemies of the state to take advantage of the incident to create a divide between the AFP and the PNP,” Arevalo said.

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