Esperon helps ex-classmate clear ties with communist rebels
BAGUIO CITY—A former high school classmate of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Thursday returned to this city with his help so she could clear her name after being linked to the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
Anne Margaret Tauli, 70, sister of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the former United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, was flown from her house in Besao town, Mountain Province, in a government helicopter.
Militant activists here thought Tauli, a member of the Cordillera People’s Congress that founded the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in 1984, had been arrested.
But at a news conference here, Tauli said Esperon, her classmate at Philippine Science High School (PSHS) in 1968, helped facilitate her travel back to Baguio so she could defend herself against allegations that linked her to the communist rebels.
Tauli owns the house in Baguio where Julius Soriano Giron, supposed chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was killed in a clash with policemen and soldiers in March.
Giron reportedly replaced detained CPP chair, Benito Tiamzon, also head of the NPA finance committee.
“I will not speculate,” Esperon said when asked how deep Tauli was allegedly entrenched in the NPA.
He added: “For harboring an avowed enemy of the state, Ms Tauli is in a legal bind. What was her role [in the NPA]? Does she know Giron? People have speculated.”
Esperon said Tauli would be under his custody although she would be temporarily staying in the city.
During the press briefing, Tauli insisted that she had no ties with the NPA.
According to the CPA, Tauli had retired and had been active in arranging clan reunions and organizing the documentation of the “batangan” system (indigenous forest management system) of her hometown. An elder, Tauli is president of Batil-ang Peypeyan clan in Besao.
She completed her elementary education at Easter School here and was among the first graduates of PSHS in 1968. She taught at Brent School and was coordinator of the Cordillera studies program of the Cordillera schools group in Easter School until 1984.
Tauli said her return to Baguio took time because of the Luzon lockdown. Leaving Besao required a strict quarantine process “because Mountain Province remains free of COVID-19 (new coronavirus disease),” she said.
She submitted to a medical test as soon as she landed at the Loakan Airport here as part of the city’s quarantine procedures, said Police Gen. R’Win Pagkalinawan, Cordillera police director.
“The general idea was to let her come in peacefully and she came to us peacefully,” Esperon said, adding that the government would also help his former classmate if she had difficulty proving that her alleged links to the NPA were not true.
“Others who are still out there [in the mountains], I hope you see the point that your 52-year struggle has brought us nothing but hardships in the countryside,” Esperon, a former general and Armed Forces chief of staff, said.
“Let us help each other improve lives,” he added. —REPORTS FROM EV ESPIRITU, KARLSTON LAPNITEN AND KIMBERLIE QUITASOL
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