MANILA - Palusot lamang (It's an excuse).
This is how the spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines described the claims of top Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon that they had no guns during their arrest last Saturday.
Speaking to radio DZMM, AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the arrest of the Tiamzons is the product of months of surveillance of the NPA "power couple."
He said that aside from guns, the military also found cellular phones, laptops and flash drives belonging to the couple.
"Documented po ang number of firearms pati 'yung mga laptop, 'yung cellular phone... 'yung cellular phone nga 16, apat na laptop, 20 flash drives. Sa'min, ito ang importante compared sa mga baril... Kung merong aso't pusa man, nakadokumento sana 'yan kasi nakadokumento lahat ng nakuha sa kanila," he said.
The military spokesman said it is natural for the communist leaders to lie about what was found in their possession since they are openly rebelling against government.
"Wala pong katotohanan 'yung mga sinasabi nila, 'yun ay palusot lamang nila. The fact remains na nakitaan po sila nito lahat," he said.
He said the two were arrested in their vehicle, a Hyundai Starex van with a back-up vehicle, and not inside their house. He said that until now, authorities have yet to enter the Tiamzons' house since they have no warrant.
The Tiamzons were arrested by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Barangay Zaragosa, Aluginsan in Carcar, Cebu.
Atty. Rachel Pastores, one of the lawyers representing the suspects, said they are questioning why the military and police are now claiming that firearms and explosives were seized in the arrests.
She said the Tiamzons are National Democratic Front consultants and card-bearing holders of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, said the Tiamzons failed to show proof that they are covered by the JASIG.
She also said that even if covered by the JASIG, the Tiamzons cannot invoke the agreement because there is no ongoing peace talks between government and the CPP-NPA.
"Kini-claim of course ng NDF na covered sila ng JASIG. Yung government panel, there's no validation of that. There was a failed verification. Hindi talaga naverify yan kung talagang covered sila ng JASIG," she said.