CPP denounces conviction of Tiamzon couple

The Communist Party of the Philippines has denounced the conviction of its members, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, by the Quezon City court for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of four Army officers 1988.

Wilma and Benito Tiamzon (Photo courtesy of Free Benito Tiamzon, William Austria and All Political Prisoners Facebook page)

In a statement, Marco Valbuena, the chief information officer of the CPP, called the conviction "unjust" and the charges "trumped up."

"The conviction forms part of political persecution that violates the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP. That the case was pursued by DOJ (Department of Justice) show bad faith on part of GRP. Walang palabra de honor (No words of honor)," the CPP said.

Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, were found "guilty beyond reasonable doubt" on Friday, Nov. 27, by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 Judge Alfonso Ruiz and sentenced them to a jail term of 40 years. 

Aside from the jail term, the Tiamzons who are at-large were also ordered to pay complainant former Army Lt. Abraham Claro Casis the sum of P225,000 in moral, civil and exemplary damages.

The case stemmed from the kidnapping of Casis and three soldiers – Lieutenants Clarito Santos, Oscar Singson and Rommel Salamanca -- who were abducted by supposed members of the New People's Army while on their way to Manila on June 1, 1988.

They were released after 75 days by Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal.

"The charges of kidnapping are unjust and without basis. Disarming and detention of Army personnel as prisoners-of-war are legitimate and humane acts of war. They were released without ransom contrary to criminal act of kidnapping," the CPP said.

The CPP said that the criminal charges filed against the couple are "spurious" as the incident happened "more than 30 years ago" already.

"The decision was suddenly railroaded and was based en toto on obviously concocted testimonies of Army soldiers," the party said.

The CPP also said that the ruling on the case was "released at a time that judges and lawyers are under intense pressure from the military to cooperate in counterinsurgency."

Benito, the reported chairman of the CPP-NPA and his wife, Wilma, the alleged secretary general of the party were arrested by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police personnel in Barangay Zaragoza in Aloguinsan, Cebu in March 2014 by virtue of a warrant of arrest for their crimes against humanity that include murder, multiple murders, and frustrated murder.

President Duterte ordered the release of the Tiamzons in August 2016 so they can 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.