MANILA - The arrested chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) and his wife are now facing new charges following their arrest over the weekend.
The new charges filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) are illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and illegal possession of explosives.
CPP-NPA chairman Benito Tiamzon, his wife, alleged CPP-NPA secretary general Wilma, and five others underwent inquest proceedings at the multi-purpose hall of the PNP. The five are also facing charges for harboring a fugitive.
The Tiamzons and five other insurgents were arrested in a raid in the central island of Cebu on a warrant for multiple murder and attempted murder.
Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the insurgents' negotiating panel, condemned the "illegal arrest", saying both Tiamzons were covered by immunity guarantees.
On Monday, the suspects were transferred from the PNP Custodial Center to the multi-purpose hall in Camp Crame for the inquest.
The inquest proceedings were held in Camp Crame due to security reasons.
Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were in handcuffs and wore orange shirts.
Wilma was defiant as she showed her handcuffs to journalists and even greeted her comrades on their 45th anniversary celebration on Saturday.
During the proceedings, lawyers of the Tiamzon camp walked out of the proceedings, saying they do not recognize the jurisdiction of the proceedings.
They also questioned why the hearing was held in Camp Crame instead of the place where the alleged crimes happened.
Atty. Rachel Pastores, one of the lawyers representing the suspects, said they are also questioning why it was only now that the military and police are claiming that firearms and explosives were seized in the arrests.
She said the Tiamzons are NDF consultants and card-bearing holders of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
In a statement read by Tina Palabay of Karapatan, the Tiamzon couple called their arrests illegal because they are JASIG card holders.
They also greeted their comrades on their upcoming anniversary and said that the armed revolution will continue and get stronger.
They also said that the CPP-NPA is open to the peace process in fair and honest peace negotiations.
The PNP, meanwhile, said inquest proceedings pushed through despite the lawyers of the suspects not recognizing the proceedings.
Police Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-National Capital Region (CIDG-NCR), said the proceedings are legal.
He denied the firearms were planted and called on other NPA members to go back to the fold of the law.
He said that it was the CPP-NPA leadership that turned its back on the peace process. "Now that they are captured, they are claiming they are consultants in the peace process. How can that be?" he asked.