Malacañang said the decision of the court to convict National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon for kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the abduction of a soldier in 1988 was a triumph of the Philippines’ justice system.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 216 Judge Alfonso Ruiz II sentenced the Tiamzon couple to up to 40 years in prison and ordered them to pay damages and civil indemnity amounting to P225,000 with interest.
“The long arm of the law has finally caught up with the Tiamzon couple. We, therefore, consider this latest court decision as a triumph of the justice system,” he said. He also said this the guilty verdict shows that the country’s justice system works.
The conviction stemmed from the abduction of Army Lt. Abraham Claro Casis with two other soldiers along the border between Tiaong and Candelaria, Quezon.
Casis had testified that they were on their way to Manila on July 1, 1988 when members of the New People’s Army (NPA) stopped their vehicle and took them. They were taken to a detention center where they were held captive for two months.
The court relied on and gave “full faith and credit” to Casis’ testimony which they found straightforward, categorical, and “in accord with the natural course of things.”
President Duterte ordered the release of the Tiamzons in August 2016 so they could represent the NDF in the peace talks in Oslo, Norway.
When the President scrapped the peace talks, the QC court ordered their arrest in August 2018. However, the couple’s whereabouts remain unknown and they are still at large.
Meantime, Major General Edgard Arevalo., AFP spokesperson, said in a statement:
“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. They refused to submit themselves to government after the peace negotiations did not prosper,” said Major General Edgard Arevalo., AFP spokesperson.
“The conviction of the Tiamzons 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,” he added.
Arevalo said the military will continue to “strengthen its resolve to bring other criminals to justice in honor of the victims of the violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA.”
Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, PNP spokesperson, echoed Roque’s statement, saying: “I think that’s a triumph of justice. It is also another success story on the efficiency of our prosecutors and investigators who secured the validity of evidence presented during trial,” he said.
Usana also congratulated the court which, he said, ensured that the justice system in the country works.
“It (conviction) is a manifestation of the sins committed by the communist-terrorists against our people,” he said.