Nabbed NPA couple helping Yolanda victims?

Posted at 03/23/14 7:37 PM

Communist leaders Benito Tiamzon (left) and wife Wilma Austria Tiamzon (center) are escorted by police after they were arrested on Saturday, a week ahead of the 45th anniversary of the group's armed struggle when it is expected to launch attacks on government targets. Photo by Al Falcon, Reuters

MANILA -- The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced the arrest of the Tiamzon couple, who, at the time of their arrest, were supposedly looking into the condition of survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

Wilma and Benito Tiamzon were arrested Saturday afternoon by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in Barangay Zaragosa, Aluginsan in Carcar, Cebu.

According to a statement sent to ABS-CBN by Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista, chief of staff of the AFP, Wilma Tiamzon is the secretary-general of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA), while her husband, Benito, is the chairman of the CPP-NPA.

The Tiamzons, Bautista said, were arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for their crimes against humanity that include murder, multiple murders, and frustrated murder issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 31 in Laoang, Northern Samar.

But in a statement, the CPP said the Tiamzons were "closely monitoring the efforts of the New People’s Army in carrying out rehabilitation work in devastated regions."

"They were receiving reports from NPA commands about efforts to mobilize Red fighters to help build communal farms, till the land and mobilize and distribute seeds and other agricultural resources from the NDFP," the CPP statement said.

It added that the arrest of the couple would further jeopardize peace negotiations with the government since it was in violation of the 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

"They are both publicly known figures in peace negotiations. The NDFP has further identified both Tiamzon and (Wilma) Austria as holders of documents of identification counter-verified by then officials of the GPH," it said.

"The CPP condemns the Aquino regime and its armed forces for filing a slew of trumped-up criminal charges against Tiamzon and Austria. The CPP condemns the media campaign being conducted by Malacañang and the AFP to demonize Tiamzon and Austria by depicting them as common criminals," the CPP added.

The CPP said the Tiamzons were living simply, travelling to rural areas.

"Unlike Aquino who was totally clueless of the conditions of the people in the path of supertyphoon Yolanda, Tiamzon and Austria were among the peasant masses when the winds ravaged through the Visayas," it said.

"Unlike Aquino who took four days to act, Tiamzon and Austria immediately mobilized the CPP’s forces to carry out relief work and help in the rehabilitation of the peasant masses who suffered grave devastation of their crops and livelihood," it added.

The CPP is demanding the immediate release of the couple and their companions, as well as dropping the charges against them.

"The CPP demands that the Aquino regime accord them the right to counsel and medical attention. Austria has severe asthma, and suffers both from a serious kidney ailment and spinal bone degeneration secondary to osteoporosis and is in need of constant medical care," it said.