Tiamzon couple won't enter plea in Leyte killings case

Report by Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2015 11:25 AM | Updated as of May 07 2015 11:34 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Detained couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army, refused to enter a plea in a multiple murder case being heard at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32.

The Tiamzons, Satur Ocampo and their co-accused refused to enter a plea in the 15 counts of murder filed against them for the brutal killing of 15 civilians discovered in a mass grave in 2006 in Inopacan, Leyte.

According to the lawyer of the Tiamzons, Atty. Rachel Pastores, they are still waiting for the Court of Appeals to make a decision on their motion questioning the information on the cases filed against them.

However, the Manila RTC decided to proceed with the arraignment and start the pre-trial on July 30.

Pastores said if they had entered a plea, the court might have assumed that the Tiamzons and all the other accused have acknowledged the cases they are questioning.

The Tiamzon couple and Ocampo maintained that the cases were fabricated and politically motivated.

The court entered a not guilty plea for the defendants.

The Philippine military arrested the Tiamzons, along with five others, last year based on a warrant issued by a regional trial court in Leyte.

The National Democratic Front has claimed the Tiamzons are ''peace consultants'' and should be immune from arrest.

Benito Tiamzon is identified as the chairman of the CPP-NPA while his wife is the secretary-general of the group.