Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra hailed Friday the conviction of communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
“I still have not read the entire decision. But it’s a victory for the prosecution, so as SOJ (Secretary of Justice) I am happy about the outcome of the trial,” Guevarra said.
Lawyers of the couple expressed dismay that they were convicted over charges that allegedly took place in 1988 in Mauban, Quezon.
National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia called the charges as “politically motivated persecution and hardline attack because (these were) resurrected out of nowhere.”
If the allegations are true, Olalia said the Tiamzons should have been charged with rebellion instead due to the doctrine of absorption.
Olalia lamented that the conviction of the couple “closes doors and windows to peaceful settlements” with the communist rebels since the couple are members of the communist group’s peace panel and consultants.
The lawyer reminded that the couple is still covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which is supposed to protect them from prosecution for being peace consultants.
Judge Alfonzo Ruiz II of the Quezon City RTC Branch 216 found the couple guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
Ruiz sentenced the couple to reclusion perpetua (life in prison) with all its accessory penalties as well as ordered them to pay Army Lt. Abraham Claro P75,000 as moral damages, P75,000 as civil indemnity, and P75,000 as exemplary damages.
The case concerns allegations that the couple was part of an armed group who held captive four soldiers of the Philippine Army for 75 days.