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Red leaders’ arraignment reset anew

MANILA, Philippines—The arraignment of spouses Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and other leaders and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on multiple murder and frustrated murder charges has been postponed anew.

The Tiamzons were brought to the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 on Thursday morning together with the other communist rebels, but their lawyer, Rachel Pastores, requested the court to reset the arraignment while the Court of Appeals deliberated on their challenge to the charges against them.

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Presiding Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina granted the request “in the interest of justice” and “out of judicial courtesy,” and reset the arraignment to May 7.

Pastores said the case filed in the Court of Appeals earlier this year questioned the essence and facts behind the murder charges brought against the suspects.

“Our petition for certiorari raises questions about the validity of the information filed with the court, because in the information, there were aggravating circumstances for murder that were mentioned, like treachery or abuse of strength, but these were not included in the prosecutor’s resolution, so it seems there’s no basis for these aggravating statements,” Pastores told reporters.

She said some of the 15 counts of murder may have already prescribed, meaning they could no longer be tried in court.

“These are questions on the substance of the case. It would not be proper if we proceed with the arraignment with these questionable information,” Pastores said.

The Tiamzons were arrested in Cebu in March 2014. The military claims that Benito Tiamzon is the chairman of the CPP, while his wife is the secretary general.

The Tiamzons and the other suspects are facing multiple murder and frustrated murder charges in connection with a mass grave discovered by the military in Inopacan, Leyte, in 2006 attributed to the CPP.

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TAGS: Benito Tiamzon, Communist Party of the Philippines, frustrated murder, Manila Regional Trial Court, multiple murder, Rachel Pastores, Thelma Bunyi Medina, Wilma Tiamzon
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