PH military says manhunt won’t cease for Tiamzon couple
MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday (Nov. 27) said the manhunt for communist rebel leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon would continue following their conviction for the kidnapping and illegal detention of four government troopers.
Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the military welcomes the guilty ruling against the Tiamzon couple.
“The many victims of NPA atrocities and the AFP rejoice” at the conviction of the Tiamzons, said Arevalo.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court convicted the couple and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua, or up to 40 years imprisonment, and ordered them to pay damages and indemnity worth at least P225,000.
The cases against the rebel couple were in connection with the 1988 captivity by communist rebels of three military officers and an anti-narcotics agent, who had been kept captive for two months.
Charges had been filed in court in 1990 but the Tiamzon couple had been arrested and arraigned only in 2014.
The couple were arrested in 2014 in Cebu. Two years later, they were released from detention on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte and participated in peace negotiations as consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Duterte eventually cancelled the talks and the Quezon City court ordered the arrest of the couple in 2018 but they had gone into hiding since.
The Tiamzons are also facing murder charges in connection with the alleged purge by communist rebels of suspected spies in the 1980s which the military said had been confirmed by a mass grave unearthed in Inopacan town, Leyte province.
“The AFP will continue to hunt them down after they have violated the provisions of their temporary liberty by virtue of their being nominated as consultants in the peace negotiations with government,” Arevalo said.
“They refused to submit themselves to government after the peace negotiations did not prosper,” he added.
He said the conviction of the couple is “a victory for the many victims of atrocities of the NPA particularly orders to conduct murder, arson, extortion, ambushes, bombing and the like that they orchestrated.”