By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
The son of a former New People’s Army (NPA) leader, who was recently arrested for several counts of murder in relation to the Inopacan massacre in the ‘80s, has questioned the legality of the operation against his father after police rummaged through their house without a search warrant from the court.
“Ang pinaka eye-opener lang [during his] inquest, wala palang search warrant ang mga pulis nang dumating sila sa premises,” Jody Salas, son of Rodolfo Salas, told reporters before his father was presented to Manila Regional Court Branch 32 on Thursday. (The eye-opener during his inquest was that police who came to the premises had no search warrant.)
While it is legal for police to arrest his father, Jody said, it was not right for them to conduct the search inside his father’s house.
“Mayroon silang warrant of arrest para dalhin ‘yung tatay ko sa kulungan, pero para ikutin yung bahay mo at saka mangalkal doon, wala silang search warrant,” he added. (They had a warrant of arrest to bring my father to jail, but for them to go around the house and rummage inside, they had no search warrant.)
Rodolfo, 72, popularly known as “Commander Bilog,” was arrested inside his house in Angeles City, Pampanga on Tuesday morning after police served him an arrest warrant for over 44 counts of murder, which were allegedly perpetrated by members of the Communist group in the ‘80s.
Police said they found a .45 caliber pistol, 174 rounds of ammunition, and two magazines for the .45 caliber pistol during his arrest, leading the former NPA member to face another charge for illegal possession of firearms.
The younger Salas denied claims that the firearm and ammunition recovered from his father’s possession were in their living room because “there were kids inside the house who might get them.”
“Kaya ‘yung mga ganyan, kapag tumuloy ang kaso, ‘yun ‘yung mga mapag-uusapan, sa illegal possession,” Jody added. (So the things like that, if the case is pursued, that’s what will be discussed when it comes to the illegal possession.)
While he did not say that he believed that there are people behind his father’s arrest, Jody said it makes sense that there are efforts being undertaken to arrest his father, work on his papers, and dig up his charges since he was already released from jail.
“Marami naman dahilan. Pwedeng may bad trip lang sa kanya, pwedeng may sama ng loob, pwedeng may iniipit o may gustong palabasin, pwedeng kailangan nila ng pangalan para makita na may nangyayari sa efforts [ng government],” he added. (There are many reasons. It could be someone was mad at him, could be someone resented him, could be they wanted to put pressure on or something to appear, could be they just needed a name to show that government’s efforts are going somewhere.)
The older Salas was first arrested in 1986 but was granted amnesty by former President Fidel Ramon after six years in prison.
He was among the 38 individuals, including Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, tagged in the Inopacan massacre.
Manila RTC Branch 32 Presiding Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina issued the arrest warrant against them in August 2019.
Jody also claimed that his father already cut off his ties with the Communist group after he was released from jail. He said the latter then focused on the cooperative he founded in his province.
“Sa tingin ko wala [na siyang communication with Joma Sison]. After noon, triny niya mag-move on from the movement kaya ‘di rin sya nagrereach-out. Kumbaga triny nya i-distance yung sarili nya,” he added. (I think he no longer communicates with Sison. After that [jail stint], he tried to move on from the movement, that’s why he wasn’t reaching out. In other words, he tried to distance himself.)