AFP to coordinate with int'l police to arrest Sison, other 'purge' suspects abroad

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Metro Manila (CNN philippines, September 7) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines is looking for ways to arrest self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison and his co-accused in the so-called Inopacan massacre three decades ago.

"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," the AFP said in a statement on Friday.

It added that while Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and other suspects may be out of the country, the AFP is "not without resource."

"We will 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," the AFP said.

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

The statement came after the Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the arrest of Sison and 37 others for 15 counts of murder. This is in connection with the discovery of a mass grave in Inopacan town, Leyte in 2006. The skeletal remains supposedly belonged to members of the CPP and its armed wing New People's Army, who were allegedly killed by their comrades in 1985 on suspicion that they were informants of the military.

Sison maintained this story is "fake" and that the Arroyo administration collected bones from various cemeteries to frame the communist rebels for murder. He also accused President Rodrigo Duterte of using the case to justify a mass arrest of his opponents.

Malacañang on Friday urged Sison to return to the country to face trial.

Duterte has ordered the arrest of peace consultants since walking away from the on-and-off negotiations in 2017. The government and the communist rebels accused each other of ceasefire violations. The government considers communist rebels as terrorists, but its move to formalize the tag is still pending before a local court.