CPP says Tiamzons killed in Samar in August 2022


Posted at Apr 20 2023 02:13 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2023 12:30 PM

Philippines communist rebel leaders Benito Tiamzon (L) and wife, Wilma (R) raise clinched fists as they arrive for their bail hearing at a court in Manila on Aug. 11, 2016. Ted Aljibe, AFP Photo/file
Philippines communist rebel leaders Benito Tiamzon (L) and wife, Wilma (R) raise clinched fists as they arrive for their bail hearing at a court in Manila on Aug. 11, 2016. Ted Aljibe, AFP Photo/file

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) — Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were killed after they were captured in Samar in August 2022, the organization said Thursday.

The CPP made the statement seven months after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it had yet to identify the bodies of those killed in a firefight with security forces at that time.

According to the group, the Tiamzons and 8 others were captured last Aug. 21 while traveling toward Catbalogan City. The couple "suffered severe beating in the hands of their captors," it claimed.

AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a statement Friday that the CPP's allegations of "capture and torture" are part of the group's propaganda.

"What happened in the August 2022 operation was a legitimate encounter acting on information that VIPs of CPP-NPA were escaping from ongoing military operations," Aguilar said.

He also said that the AFP had long suspected the deaths of the Tiamzons in their supposed armed encounter with government troops on August 22, 2022, but it "did not have the evidence to confirm it."

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that they have yet to receive the report on the forensic examination of specimen related to the reported death of the communist leaders.

“We have yet to officially receive the report of the forensic group regarding the DNA test so that we can compare it with the declaration that the Tiamzon couple are already dead,” PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. told reporters.

Initial reports from authorities last August said suspected insurgents that reportedly included VIPs were engaged in a firefight at sea with government forces off the coast of Catbalogan when their boat exploded.

The CPP described the reports as a "drama hatched by the AFP and its US military advisers."

"The already lifeless bodies of the Tiamzons and their group were dumped on a motorboat filled with explosives, and tugged from Catbalogan midway towards Taranganan island before it was detonated," the CPP statement read.

The CPP said Benito, 71 was the chairman of the party's executive committee, while 70-year-old Wilma was its secretary general.

"They were travelling with Ka Divino (Joel Arceo), a subregional secretary in Eastern Visayas, along with Ka Yen, Ka Jaja, Ka Matt, Ka Ash, Ka Delfin, Ka Lupe, Ka Butig (Catbalogan 10), who all belonged to the guerrilla force of the central headquarters," the statement read.

In line with this, the CPP Central Committee has ordered its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), to "stand in formation and silently perform a 21-gun salute" in honor of the Tiamzons on Monday, April 24.

The date coincides with the 50th anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), of which the Tiamzons were consultants.

In September last year, then AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro said the services of the police crime scene investigators were tapped to gather DNA samples and come up with a comparison.

"We are still waiting for the result of the DNA test conducted by the PNP,” Bacarro said at that time.

Jose Maria "Joma" Sison, who founded the CPP in 1968, died in The Netherlands last December.

"The Communist Party of the Philippines has lost its relevance," AFP spokesman Aguilar said in a statement in December when the CPP marked its 54th anniversary.

"The death of its founding chair, “teacher and guiding light” leaves the UGM with no sense of purpose and direction," he added.

Bayan President Renato Reyes condemned the killing of the Tiamzons, saying that the couple was killed in an incident he described as "fake encounters" and were "executed in what is routinely made to appear as armed encounters or firefights."

"The killings of revolutionaries in these fake encounters are no different from the tokhang murders in the drug war. These violations of international humanitarian law are apparently justified by the terrorist tag on the victims. Again, this is unacceptable," Reyes said in a statement.

He also called for an investigation into the "summary killings" of revolutionaries like the Tiamzons.

Reyes further paid tribute to the couple, who he said were "true revolutionaries" who engaged in peace talks with the Philippine government between 2016 and 2017, as well as "veterans of the struggle" during the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

—With a report from Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News


Watch more News on iWantTFC