Supreme Court grants bail to ex-NPA chief Rodolfo Salas
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday, March 16, granted bail to former communist leader Rodolfo Salas who was arrested over the typically non-bailable charge of murder.
"The Court resolves to order the provisional release of Rodolfo Salas upon posting of a cash bond of P200,000 in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, unless he is being detained for some other lawful cause," the SC Third Division said in a notice.
Salas is 72 years old and has long retired from the New Peoples' Army (NPA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) where he served as simultaneous heads in the 1980s.
On Wednesday, March 18, he was released on bail and was already on his way home to Angeles Wednesday evening, according to his lawyer Arno Sanidad of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
The SC Third Division denied Salas' request for a Temporary Restraining Order against the proceedings at the Manila RTC Branch 32, where he was scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday, March 17.
The arraignment is very likely not pushing through because the SC announced Monday afternoon that non-urgent hearings are suspended from March 16 to April 15 due to government's containment measures of the coronavirus.
FLAG did not only ask for the freedom of the former communist leader but also questioned the legality of Salas' charge itself.
Salas is charged with 15 counts of murder over a case pending since 2007 about a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte, where 15 alleged members of the CPP were buried as part of a so-called purge of communists.
FLAG had argued that going by the political offense doctrine, the alleged murders had already been absorbed by the crime of rebellion.
Salas had already served a sentence for rebellion, afterwhich he struck a deal with the government that states, among others, that he should no longer be prosecuted for any common crime committed in furtherance of rebellion.
FLAG insisted that the alleged Leyte murders are among these crimes in furtherance of rebellion, a suit that Salas is protected from by virtue of the agreement.
There are live warrants of arrest against CPP founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison, his wife Juliet, National Democratic Front (NDF) senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, and 34 others, excluding Salas, over the alleged Leyte mass grave. – Rappler.com