Jalandoni: We have a deep bench; trained cadres to replace Tiamzons
MANILA, Philippines – The chairperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) rebuked the military’s claim that the arrest of two top communist leaders would result in a “leadership vacuum” for the organization.
NDFP chair and peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni said in an interview over Inquirer Radio 990AM that the group may replace the spouses Benito and Wilma Tiamzon with “trained” and “effective” cadres.
“There are many cadres and leaders who were trained in their several years of struggle,” Jaladoni said in Filipino on Monday.
Benito Tiamzon was said to be a head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army.
The NPA has been waging one of Asia’s longest running communist insurgency.
Meanwhile, Wilma Tiamzon was a top-ranked central committee member and CPP finance officer.
The spouses were arrested in Cebu City on Saturday over murder charges particularly involving 15 civilians in Inopacan, Leyte, who were buried in a mass grave that was later discovered in 2006.
Jaladoni asserted that their “revolution” would persist even with the leaders’ fall.
He cited the arrest of CPP founder Jose Maria Sison during the Marcos regime that failed to dampen the armed insurgency then.
“(The Tiamzons’) defiance and militant opposition inspire our cadres and other militant and revolutionary forces to continue the struggle of the masses,” Jalandoni said.
The NDFP chairman was reacting to a military report that said “the NPA will suffer a leadership vacuum that will eventually spell doom for their organization.”
Major Genera Eduardo Año also said the CPP-NPA would have “lack of direction” on the ground as it would take the group six months to find a replacement.
Jalandoni maintained that the arrest was a violation of the Joint Agreement of Safety and Immunity Guarantee (Jasig) that grants members of the NDFP who are part of the negotiating team immunity from detention and arrests.
The NDFP chair said the Tiamzons were NDFP consultants.
But Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the Tiamzons couldn’t invoke Jasig protection because the peace negotiations were stalled between the government and NDFP. The peace talks broke down in April 2013 due to disagreements between the two parties.
Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles also maintained that there was no violation of the Jasig, citing the NDFP’s failure to follow a July 2011 procedure “to verify the true identities of several dozen alleged NDFP consultants on the list of Jasig-protected individuals carrying aliases.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.