Then and now photos of Benito Tiamzon. Left photo courtesy of Manila Standard Today.
MANILA -- Malacanang won’t confirm if the capture of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Benito Tiamzon is the same one mentioned last week by President Aquino of the arrest of another “most wanted.”
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda is confident, however, that Tiamzon’s arrest is a big blow to the cause of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
This is because Tiamzon is already considered the top leader by some hardliners in the communist movement, and not founding chairman Jose Maria Sison who is now in Utrecht, Netherlands.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines considers Tiamzon as the “center of gravity” of the CPP-NPA and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), here in the Philippines.
Besides Tiamzon, also arrested were his wife Wilma, and colleagues Rex G. Villaflor, Nona C Castillo, Joel E. Enano, Jeosi M. Nepa, and Arlene J Panea.
Wilma is the secretary general of the CPP.
Items seized in their possession were: a Colt cal. 45 pistol, Norinco 9mm pistol, Kimber 9mm pistol w SN 881970, a 10 Smith & Wesson cal .357 revolver, three magazines and 17 rounds of ammunition for cal .45, one magazine and 19 rounds of ammunition for 9mm pistol, six rounds of ammunition for cal .357, and two hand grenades.
The couple was charged for multiple murder at Branch 18 in Hilongos, Leyte. The case is now under Manila RTC Branch 32 Judge Mario de la Cruz.
The charge is in relation to the alleged involvement of the Tiamzons in the killing of 15 civilians in Inopacan, Leyte, whose bodies were supposedly discovered in a mass grave in 2006.
AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista called on the CPP-NPA to finally lay down their arms.
“We will then continue to strengthen our resolve to bring other criminals to justice in honor of the victims of the violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA, and in honor of our people who deserve to live in a peaceful and developed society,” he said.
But the NDF slammed the Tiamzons’ arrest, saying it is illegal under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The JASIG, signed in 1995, stipulates that: “The primary purposes of the safety and immunity guarantees hereby adopted are to facilitate the peace negotiations, create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.”