PNP wants Tiamzons evicted from Crame jail
MANILA, Philippines–As it prepares for the impending arrest of three senators charged with plunder, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is seeking to eject alleged communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon from its detention facility.
But a Manila court hearing the multiple murder case against the Tiamzons denied Wednesday the PNP’s motion to have the couple transferred to a regular jail.
In a motion that it filed last month, the National Capital Region-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (NCR-CIDG) asked the Manila regional trial court to set aside its own plea to have custody of the couple and issue a new commitment order.
Judge Thelma Bunyi Medina, however, decided to adopt the orders issued by three other courts in Toledo, Cebu; Laoang, Northern Samar; and Quezon City committing the Tiamzons to the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
After Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, allegedly the chair and finance officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), respectively, were arrested in Cebu last March, the police told the courts that the “suspects are high value targets and their transfer for detention in a regular jail facility poses a security risk.”
The police asked the court to order that the Tiamzons remain in police custody at the PNP-Service Unit in Camp Crame, Quezon City, where they were brought after their arrest in Cebu province.
The NCR-CIDG changed its tune after Chief Supt. Benito Estipona, acting director of PNP Headquarters Support Service, issued a memorandum proposing that the Tiamzons be transferred to another jail as the PNP Custodial Center “lacks suitable manpower to secure the facility especially so at this time when high-risk detainees have grown by volume.”
The PNP Custodial Center is a temporary detention unit and overcrowding “is a pressing security concern which needs to be acted upon and preempted before a breach of security occurs,” Estipona said in a memo to the NCR-CIDG chief, Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo.
Leftist groups are protesting the Tiamzons’ transfer out of the PNP facility, alleging that the PNP wanted to eject the couple to give way to the VIP prisoners.
While the PNP is preparing VIP detention facilities for the accused in the pork barrel scam, it wants to eject political detainees like the Tiamzons “who are fighting the corrupt system that generates massive poverty and social injustice,” Bayan Muna said in a statement.
Indeed, freshly painted detention rooms were being prepared at the Camp Crame facility for Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, who have been charged with the nonbailable offense of plunder in the Sandiganbayan over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Apparently, 16 smaller detention cells were also prepared for other individuals implicated in the large-scale theft of public funds.
The militant Bayan Muna and Karapatan, which staged a rally outside the Manila City Hall on Wednesday to protest the CIDG’s appeal to transfer the Tiamzons, praised the court for electing to keep the Tiamzons in the PNP Custodial Center.
“This failed attempt of the PNP reminds us of how the government likewise treated differently accused pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles and political detainee Andrea Rosal when both needed medical attention,” Bayan Muna said.
“While Napoles was admitted to the Ospital ng Makati attended by her expensive doctors, then pregnant Rosal was not given immediate and adequate medical assistance, resulting in the death of her child two days after being born,” it said.
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