DOJ files criminal raps vs communist leaders Tiamzons, 5 others
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday filed criminal charges against communist rebel leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and their five companions who were captured in Cebu last week.
In four separate information sheets filed at 8 a.m. at the Cebu City Regional Trial Court, the DOJ accused the Tiamzon couple and their companions of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and obstruction of justice.
Benito and Wilma, chair and finance officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, are already wanted for a multiple murder charge before the trial court in Hilongos town, Leyte. The charge is in relation to alleged mass graves in Inopacan town in Leyte purportedly of victims of communist purges in the 1980s.
In the new charges, the Tiamzons and three others— Joel Enano, Arlene Panea and Rex Villaflor—were cited for violating Section 1 of Republic Act No. 9516 (illegal possession of explosive and incendiary devices).
Two fragmentation grenades were allegedly recovered and confiscated from the group after they were arrested on March 22 in a joint police and military checkpoint in Barangay Zaragoza in Aloguinsan town in Cebu, 60 kilometers southwest of Cebu City.
The five were also accused of violating Section 28 (a) of RA 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) for possession of a .5- cal. Colt pistol and three magazines with 17 rounds of ammunition, and a 9mm Norinco pistol with a magazine loaded with seven rounds of ammunition.
Enano, Panea, Villaflor as well as Nona “Lorraine” Castillo and Jeosi Nepa were separately charged for violating Presidential Decree No. 1829 (obstruction of justice) for allegedly “harboring and concealing” the Tiamzon couple.
The DOJ filed a separate charge against Castillo and Nepa for violating RA 10591 in relation to the recovery of a 9mm Kimber pistol with a magazine loaded with seven rounds of ammunition and a .357-cal. revolver with six rounds of ammunition.
The charges were filed by Assistant State Prosecutor Niven Canlapan and approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.
Lawyers of the accused, however, have claimed the firearms and grenades were “planted” by the arresting team and that only the couple’s pet dogs and a cat were found when the accused were flagged at a checkpoint on board a Hyundai Starex van and Toyota Innova multipurpose vehicle.
But in his seven-page resolution dated March 24, Canlapan found probable cause to file charges against the seven.
He said the .45-cal. pistol, 9mm Norinco, two hand grenades and ammunition were recovered from the Starex van. The 9mm Kimber pistol and .357-cal. revolver and ammunition were found in the Toyota Innova vehicle, according to the DOJ.
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