Tiamzon couple's arraignment set today

Posted at 04/08/14 10:05 AM

ANILA – Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, the top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), are set to be arraigned today before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

The couple's arraignment is in connection with their serious illegal detention case. The Tiamzons are being accused of abducting four military officers at a checkpoint.

Militants are holding protests to denounce the detention of the couple, saying the couple's arrest jeopardizes the peace talks between the government and the communist movement.

"Tingin namin ito ay masama na namang senyales para sa usapang pangkapayapaan. Iyung mga consultants ng NDF sinasampahan ng gawa-gawang kaso," said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes.

The Tiamzons, who were arrested in Cebu last March 22, are also facing charges for violating Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, and Republic Act 9516 or Illegal Possession of Explosives Law.

They are charged with murder, multiple murder and frustrated murder before the regional trial court in Northern Samar. The charges are in relation to the alleged involvement of the Tiamzons in the killing of civilians in Inopacan, Leyte, whose bodies were supposedly discovered in a mass grave in 2006.

The National Democratic Front has asserted that the Tiamzons should be released because they are covered by Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Malacañang, however, said that while Benito used an alias, the NDF failed to prove his identity thus voiding the agreement.

Wilma, on the other hand, jumped bail in December 1989 before the JASIG came into effect, making her ineligible for protection.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also noted that JASIG is only effective if there are ongoing peace talks, which is not the case.
De Lima also said the couple's criminal cases have nothing to do with the peace process. – with a report from Jerome Lantin, ABS-CBN News; ANC