NPA leaders Benito, Wilma Tiamzon reportedly neutralized by gov’t forces in Catbalogan City

TACLOBAN CITY – Two high-ranking leaders of the New People's Army (NPA) were reportedly neutralized by the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) in Catbalogan City, Monday, Aug. 22.

BENITO and Wilma Tiamzon (FB)

Couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were believed to be onboard a motorized boat with more or less 10 armed men traversing towards the south of Buri Island when they encountered the government troops around 4:20 a.m.

The armed men are believed to be members of Communist Terrorist Group NAGA, National Headquarters led by Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) Chairman Benito Tiamzon and Secretary General Wilma Tiamzon, together with Joel Arceo, the Secretary Sub-Regional Command Browser.

The troops were conducting water interdiction operations onboard two riverine scout boats and two 150 horsepower outboard motors when they met the group of Tiamzon in Barangay Canhawan Guti.

During the encounter, the motorized pump boat with the suspected CTG national personalities onboard suddenly exploded and immediately submerged.


The Army 8th Infantry Division confirmed the explosion.

But Joint Task Force Storm spokesperson Capt. Ryan Layug did not confirm if the Tiamzons were indeed neutralized.

Layug said a tipster sent information that a group of armed individuals boarded a motorized boat with boxes from a shoreline north of Catbalogan City.

Troops immediately conducted a water-borne interdiction operation in the reported vicinity.

Upon approach to the suspected boat, a megaphone was used to advise the passengers to submit for plain view inspection.

However, while the soldier on the megaphone has yet to finish the verbal advisory, passengers from a motorized boat fired shots at the government troops, which led to an encounter.

"During the gunfight, for reasons still being determined, the hostile boat suddenly exploded," Layug said.

JTF Storm commander Major Gen. Edgardo de Leon also confirmed that there were waterborne interdiction operations conducted against a hostile motorized boat.

“Pag-approach pa lang ng tropa natin ay nakiusap na tayo para magpa-plainview inspection sila. Pero pinaputukan habang nagsasalita. Mabuti hindi tinamaan, nagkaroon na ng habulan. Tapos bigla nalang sumabog ang motorized boat (When our troops approached, we asked them to present themselves for a plain view inspection. But they were fired upon. A chase ensued and the motorized boat suddenly exploded)," De Leon narrated.

He added that the 8th ID is still ascertaining the identities of the passengers of the hostile motorboat.

"Minomonitor talaga namin ang shorelines in support sa anti-illegal fishing campaign, criminal gangs eluding arrest. Ginagamit din itong mobility corridor ng CPP-NPA sa pag-transport ng personnel, baril, at ng anti-personnel mines. Revelation ito ng mga kasamahan nilang (NPA) nagbalik-loob na sa gobyerno (We are monitoring shorelines in support of the anti-illegal fishing campaign and criminal gangs eluding arrest. The CPP-NPA is using the area as mobility corridor to transport guns, personnel, and anti-personnel mines. This was revealed by one of their former comrades)."


Benito is a National Democratic Front consultant. He is the vice chairman, executive committee member, and political bureau member of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

His wife, Wilma, is the CPP secretary general, executive committee member, and political bureau member of the CPP-NPA-NDF, NDFP negotiating panel national consultant, and the National Finance Commission secretary.

They were arrested on March 22, 2014 and detained at the CIDG, Camp Crame, Quezon City.

They were granted bail in August 2016 in line with the resumption of peace negotiations under the administration of former President Duterte.

However, after the collapse of the peace talks in 2017, the couple refused to surrender and went back into hiding since a Quezon City court ordered their rearrest in 2018.

On November 27, 2020, they were convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of Lt. Abraham Claro Casis and three other soldiers in Quezon in 1988, and sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

Both have existing warrants of arrest for 15 counts of murder issued by the RTC Branch 32, Manila, dated September 14, 2017 over the alleged 1985 purge in Leyte of communist rebels suspected of being military informants, known as the “Inopacan Massacre.”

The complaint stemmed from the discovery of a mass grave in Inopacan containing alleged victims of the purge in Leyte.

They also have pending warrants of arrest for frustrated murder issued by the RTC Branch 21, Laoang, Northern Samar dated January 12, 2012; and murder issued by the RTC Branch 21, Laoang, Northern Samar dated June 10, 2013.