Why the arrest of the Tiamzons et al
is illegal and unjustified
By the legal defense team of the PILC and NUPL
26 March 2014
1. The Tiamzon spouses are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and
Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) arising from the peace negotiations and thus
must not be arrested by the Government of the Philippines (GPH).
2. Benito and Wilma Austria Tiamzon are holders of documents of
identification (more popularly known as “safe conduct passes”) numbers
ND978227 and ND978226, respectively, as consultants of the National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Both have also been issued
Letters of Acknowledgement by two Chairmen of the GPH Negotiating Panel,
Howard Dee in 1996 and Silvestre H. Bello III in 2001.
3. Wilma Austria Tiamzon is publicly known by her real name to be involved
in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations since the 1990s, and must be afforded
recognition and protection as such. The use of assumed names by accredited
or protected persons, such as “Crising Banaag” by Benito Tiamzon, is
3.1. Accepted practice in peace negotiations with
underground organizations, and as agreed upon by the Parties.
3.2. Additional implementing rules pertinent to the
JASIG signed by both Parties explicitly allowing such use.
3.3. Historical lessons during the 1986 peace
negotiations when a number of participants from the NDFP were exposed,
arrested, and even killed.
3.4. Security and privacy considerations, to encourage
those who want to participate in the negotiations, and as assurance
against present or future reprisals.
4. The status of the Tiamzon spouses as consultants of the NDFP is not
questionable. There is no need for further or additional
verification/validation of their identities.
4.1. They are in possession of and presented documents
of identification and letters of acknowledgement. Further verification is
only obligatory when there are no other means of establishing identity. (JASIG
4.2. Out of 427 political prisoners in the Philippines,
only 14 are being claimed by the NDFP as consultants.
5. Arresting the Tiamzon spouses constitutes bad faith on the part of the
GPH in complying with its obligations under binding bilateral agreements.
5.1. JASIG was crafted precisely to facilitate the
peace negotiations, to create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free
discussion and free movement during the peace negotiation, and avert
incidents that may jeopardize the peace negotiations. It actually benefits
the panelists, consultants, staff and security of both Parties to safety
and immunity guarantees.
5.2. Under the principle in international law of “pacta
sunt servanda” (Latin for promises must be kept), agreements are binding
between the Parties and must be kept and performed in good faith.
5.3. A Party like the GPH cannot use its domestic law
as a justification or excuse for the non-performance/compliance with its
obligations under a binding international agreement like JASIG.
6. Protection of the Tiamzon spouses under the JASIG subsists.
6.1. JASIG can only be terminated by written notice of
either Party to the other and will only be effective 30 days upon receipt
(JASIG Part III. No. 5). No written notice has been sent or received by
the NDFP for the termination of the negotiations by GPH under the Aquino
6.2. There is no provision in the JASIG allowing for
suspension or "inoperatibility" of its protections as this will render
nugatory its objectives and practical value.
6.3. The whole peace process or negotiations are huge
and elaborate and do not only involve scheduled formal talks across the
negotiating table. It equally involves continuing phases such as
consultation, research, study, education, information, advocacy,
backchanneling, exploratory meetings, informal talks, and formal talks.
Absence, suspensions or impasses in formal peace talks do not mean the
whole peace negotiations/process are automatically absent, suspended or
7. The Tiamzon spouses are engaged in activities
directly related to their role as consultants in the peace negotiations.
7.1. The Tiamzons were conducting intensive
consultations with peasants and basic sectors in the Visayas at the time
of their arrest particularly with respect to socio-economic issues and the
effects of supertyphoon Yolanda.
7.2. Even the GPH alleges them as leaders of the
Communist Party of the Philippines – New Peoples’ Army. It stands to
reason and common sense that they should be monitoring implementation of
agreements on the field, be consulted by and conduct consultations with
members of the NDFP and pertinent individuals and groups, in such a
significant work as the peace negotiations.
8. Four days after their arrest have passed yet still no valid warrants
have been presented against the seven detained.
8.1. The detained and their counsels have not received,
nor have been furnished previous valid warrants against any of them. Even
present attempts to procure these are being blocked by the military. It is
not implausible that shotgun warrants would eventually surface as the
Tiamzon spouses are mechanically made default respondents or “usual
suspects” in incidents allegedly involving the New People's Army.
9. The belated inquest proceedings for the trumped-up charges of illegal
possession of firearms and explosives are highly irregular and cannot be
given legal credence or effect.
9.1. It was conducted 44 hours after the arrest, way
beyond the GPH maximum period of 36 hours of legal detention without
charges being filed; thus the detention is arbitrary and illegal.
9.2. It was conducted not at the place of the alleged
crimes in Cebu, but some 355 miles away, in Quezon City.
9.3. Evidence has been planted. It is incumbent now
upon the GPH prove the integrity and admissibility in court of the
firearms and explosives allegedly taken from the detainees. The
presumption of innocence subsists and the burden of proof and evidence
does not shift to them.
9.4. New, false, and fabricated charges were filed as
an afterthought to cover previous fatal infirmities in supposed warrants
almost two days after the incident.
9.5. Police CIDG officers did not inform counsels for
detained about the inquest despite presenting themselves the day before.
Counsels were surprised with and only informed about the inquest for the
new and fabricated charges only three hours prior by members of media.
10. The practice of charging common criminal offenses, instead of
political crimes, against consultants of the NDFP (and other political
prisoners) cannot legalize the arrest and detention of the Tiamzons.
10.1. Filing criminal charges , false, anomalous and
fabricated at that, are precisely calculated to undermine and remove the
very protection of the JASIG; conversely, the JASIG was intended to shield
participants of the peace process from harassment and other acts that
hinder their work, like the filing of such charges.
10.2. These new false charges are designed to ensure
the detention of the Tiamzons when other possible old charges against them
wither in the face of intense scrutiny.
10.3. These trumped up charges violate the political
offense doctrine, which mandates that all crimes in furtherance of
political beliefs must be subsumed under one political crime of rebellion.
Any person investigated, charged, arrested, prosecuted or convicted in
violation of this judicial doctrine must be released as mandated by the
Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International
Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), which the GPH co-signed with the NDFP way
Atty. Rachel F. Pastores
Managing Counsel, Public Interest Law Center (PILC)
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
Secretary General, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
HERE FOR THE VIDEO OF THE PRESS CON OF ATTY. EDRE OLALIA AND OTHERS
On the way to inquest
(stills from GMA News TV)
In spite of the Tiamzon couple’s capture, the People’s
Democratic Revolution will advance!
Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)
NDFP Mindanao Chapter
March 25, 2014
We condemn in the strongest terms possible the arrest of the Tiamzon
couple because as major consultants to the peace talks between the GPH and
the NDFP, they are immune to arrest as clearly stipulated under a
bilaterally signed agreement between the GPH and the NDFP, the Joint
Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Wilma Austria is a
certified JASIG holder with Identification ND 978826 under her real name,
while Benito Tiamzon holds JASIG Identification ND 978227 under the name
“Crising Banaag.” In compliance with said agreement between the GPH and
the NDFP and as an act of sincerity on the part of the Aquino government
in attaining peace, it is imperative that the Tiamzon couple and five of
their companions be released without condition.
The arrest of Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria Tiamzon and five others, will
not deter the People’s Democratic Revolution from continuing to advance
nor will it dampen the resolve of the entire revolutionary forces to carry
forward the interests of the people and the Revolution. Beyond having to
frustrate the objectives of the brutal Oplan Bayanihan in its first three
years, the Revolutionary movement is more than ever intent on frustrating
the last three years of its implementation, because of the people’s
continuing struggle against exploitation and oppression in the midst of an
ever worsening crisis gripping the entire country and the world. While
revolutionary forces in Mindanao are once again faced with the challenge
of thwarting renewed attacks of the OPB, which deployed three new
additional AFP brigades against the NPA in Mindanao, only presents itself
as an opportune time for other regions in the Visayas and Luzon to advance
If we hark back to history, when CPP founding Chairman Prof. Jose Maria
Sison and then NPA Commander Bernabe “Dante” Buscayno were arrested during
Marcos’s Martial Law, the revolutionary movement has never ceased from
expanding rapidly and has continuously strengthened on a nationwide scale.
This was even followed with the capture of former CPP Chair Rudy Salas,
including the former head of the NPA Romulo Kintanar and many other
members of the Central Committee of the CPP, during the Corazon Aquino
administration; the revolutionary movement only continued to gain greater
strength. With these as precedence, there is absolutely no basis for the
people’s revolutionary struggle to cease from advancing on account solely
of the Tiamzon couple’s capture. The primary basis for the Revolutionary
movement’s continuing and unstoppable advance does not rely solely on its
leaders, but derives impetus with the ever worsening state of exploitation
and oppression by imperialists and its local ruling classes towards the
The principal reason for either the regression or advance of the
revolutionary movement in the face of the continuing grave social crisis
in the country is whether or not the movement follows the correct
political line, and not because of certain personalities in its
leadership. This means that if the revolutionary movement resolutely
stands for the general interests of the vast majority of the people,
particularly for their aspiration to attain genuine agrarian reform,
national industrialization, genuine right to self-determination, democracy
and social benefits, the people’s revolution will continue, and continue
to struggle until socialism shall have been established.
Immediately release Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and their five companions!
Carry forward the struggle for peace based on social justice!
More reasons to advance the people’s war in Southern
March 24, 2014
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Merardo Arce Command)
The capture of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria only emboldens the New
People’s Army in Southern Mindanao to further intensify the people’s war
in the region. The US-Aquino regime is daydreaming when it says the arrest
spells the demise of the revolutionary movement. The NPA-SMR is ever
resolute to advance the guerrilla war to a higher stage because the roots
of armed conflict are firmly embedded in a region heavily militarized by
the fascist AFP troops.
Instead of dismantling pork barrel and corruption, providing genuine
relief for disaster victims, and ending the poverty of the Filipino
masses, the US-Aquino regime has embarked its relentless aggressive war in
the countryside. Under its counterrevolutionary policy Oplan Bayanihan, it
deployed its vast resources and manpower to militarize the peasant
villages and open it for further imperialist plunder.
Ironically after boasting that several provinces in the region are
insurgency-free, the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command augmented its troops
with a new Army division, and the deployment of the 9th Infantry Battalion
in Compostela Valley, the 68th IB and the 4th Special Forces in Davao del
Norte and Bukidnon boundary.
The new Army units are responsible for the spate of aerial bombing in
Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and in Maco, Compostela Valley. They add up to
the current AFP combat troops under Its Peace and Development program
which are disrupting the lives of civilian peasants and Lumads in
Paquibato, Maco, Magpet, Tulunan, Makilala and Compostela through its
legalized hamletting and immersion activities. The new AFP units are the
latest enemies of the people because they act as mercenary protectors of
imperialist and local big business. They are the latest violators of human
rights who will perpetrate the same injustice suffered by rape-slay victim
Rebelyn Pitao, the child victim Roque Antivo, and the other victims of
extra-judicial killings in the region.
The people’s guerrilla army shall continue to outwit and outmaneuver the
Eastern Mindanao Command whose Special Operations Teams are intensifying
their hamletting in the countryside. The NPA’s regular troops and the
people’s militia shall continue to conduct widespread and intensive
tactical offensives, to hit the Aquino regime’s armed forces whenever and
wherever in the Southern Mindanao territory. It will seize more arms,
inflict mounting casualties and accelerate the formation of more NPA
In the last two months alone, three sub-regional units of the NPA have
inflicted 54 casualties against the AFP. It is standard operating
procedure for the military to conceal the real score in the battlefield by
being silent with the real number of casualties. It is only when the media
are vigilant enough that the military is forced to reveal the number of
body bags. The 39th IB, 57th IB and the 71st IB suffered several defeats,
thus they were required to attend rotational retraining; their absence is
currently augmented with the new battalions.
In the face of the AFP’s relentless attacks, the NPA urges the people to
defend their homes and families. Only through the armed struggle can the
masses protect the gains of the people’s war and prevent themselves from
being placed under military control. The NPA is always open for any
cooperation with the people when it comes to protecting their rights,
defending their lands and inflicting blows against the fascist enemy that
wreak havoc to their lives.
The NPA also urges the Cafgu paramilitary forces who, because of extreme
poverty, are coerced to become enemies of their fellow peasants. They
should turn their backs from their fascist and corrupt masters and serve
and defend their poor class. They should discern that the AFP commanders
to whom they report to receive fat salaries and kickbacks at the expense
of the people’s welfare.
26 March 2014
1. On Palace Communications Sec. Coloma claim that Tiamzons should
prove alleged firearms and explosives were planted:
Last time we checked, it is the Prosecution/Government that should prove
its case. The presumption of innocence remains and has the burden - not
the respondents/accused, to prove the integrity and legal admissibility of
the assailed firearms and explosives. Detached standard rhetorics and
official lines on being fair and just fly away from routinary practice and
reality on the ground.
2. On AFP PIO chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala demand that Tiamzon
lawyers shut up and stop the "propaganda":
We lawyers are just exercising our profession and protecting the rights of
our clients amidst vicious vilification and unmitigated demonization. We
have no choice when queried but to explain the side of our clients amidst
the barrage of government pronouncements. We cannot just take these
sitting down without rectification.
If we lawyers are engaged in "propaganda," then what do you call yourself
and your office? The sole and exclusive purveyor of "truth"?
You do not stop someone from telling the truth by militarist gagging. You
can only do that by satisfactorily and credibly proving the falsity of
such "truth" with clear, logical and commonsensical explanations.
3. On PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Reuben Sindac claim the Tiamzon
arrest was "with presumption of regularity":
Abundant experience and long record of police operations has patently
shown the reverse in actual practice. In contemporary Philippine setting,
this legal presumption is an anachronism. It has been exploited as a
veneer for justifying shortcuts, blunders, missteps, rights violations and
even cover-ups to escape accountability.
Mukhang natitinik o nabibilaukan na ang gobyerno sa "big fish" showcase
Wala talagang pagbabago. Routinary denial/limitation of right to counsel,
torture, trumped/up charges, demonization of dissenters, curtailment of
basic rights, and alas, prohibition or intolerance against any form of
speech contrary to the official government line. One cannot even simply
freely raise one's fist in protest or defiance .
Ganito na sila nuon, ganito pa rin sila ngayon. #
Edre U. Olalia
National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL)
(NUPL is part of the legal defense team of the seven arrested at
Aloguinsan, Cebu with the Public Interest Law Center.)
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon
Email addresses: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on twitter @nuplphilippines and facebook @https://www.facebook.com/nuplphilippines
Visit the NUPL website at http://www.nupl.net/
"By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a
remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human
rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the
fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to
fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.”
- Supreme Court Chief Justice
Reynato S. Puno, in his message at the NUPL Founding Congress, September
"After long years of experience as a people’s lawyer, I can honestly
say it has been a treasured journey of self-fulfillment and rewarding
achievement. I know it will be the same for all others who choose to tread
- Atty. Romeo T. Capulong,
NUPL founding chairperson, in his keynote address at the Fifth Conference
of Lawyers in Asia Pacific ( COLAP V), September 18, 2010
GRP’s policy of arresting and abducting NDFP’s peace consultants belies
Aquino’s posturing for peace
Posted on 25 March 2014
March 25, 2014
Reference: CAROL P. ARAULLO, Bayan Chairperson
Last week’s illegal arrest of CPP leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma
Austria-Tiamzon is but the latest in a string of blatant violations of the
GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that
has imperiled the peace process.
Like other arrested NDFP peace consultants, Tiamzon and Austria-Tiamzon
are protected by the JASIG, should not have been arrested and theefore
should be released.
The JASIG was signed by both panels in February 1995 to facilitate the
peace negotiations by creating a favorable atmosphere and averting any
incident that may jeopardize the talks. Negotiators, consultants,
staffers, security and other personnel of both panels are issued safe
conduct passes or documents of identification (under Sec. I) and are
guaranteed immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest,
detention, prosecution and interrogation due to their involvement in the
negotiations (under Sec. II).
The agreement, which provides a mechanism to address violations and
disputes on its implementation, is deemed in force unless explicitly
terminated by either party as provided for (Sec. III).
When arrested, Benito Tiamzon carried with him his JASIG pass under the
alias ‘Crising Banaag’ while Wilma Tiamzon had hers under her own name.
Both have letters of acknowledgment signed by former GRP negotiating panel
head Silvestre Bello III. However, the arresting team ignored said
documents. GRP officials are now saying one of three things: that the
Tiamzon couple are not covered by JASIG and, even if they are, JASIG is
not enforceable due to the current impasse in the talks; the failure to
verify the identities of the NDFP JASIG pass holders due to the corrupted
digital keys; and because there are criminal cases against the couple for
which warrants of arrest have been issued by GRP courts.
The talks are undeniably at an impasse but I should stress that these have
not been terminated by either party, so the JASIG remains in full force.
On the issue of verification, Wilma Tiamzon’s identity is easily verified
because she used her real name in her JASIG document while Benito
Tiamzon’s alias can be verified by both parties if the GRP is willing to
sit down with the NDFP to do so as provided in the JASIG. In fact, former
Pres. Fidel Ramos personally knows Wilma Tiamzon as an NDFP consultant
because he visited her and did not object to her release on
recognizance1994 as a confidence-building measure for the peace
With regard to the criminal cases the couple are facing, may we remind the
Aquino government of the GRP penchant for filing trumped-up criminal
charges against revolutionary leaders and members instead of the correct
charge of rebellion in violation of established jurisprudence, i.e. the
Hernandez doctrine. This is clearly GPH attempt to criminalize and
demonize political dissidents and put them behind jail on false charges.
For the sake of peace, the Aquino government should allow the Tiamzon
couple and other detained NDFP consultants to to resume their work in
contributing to the progess of the talks, which undeniably includes
conducting consultations and giving updates to the NDFP revolutionary
forces in the field.
To date, 14 NDFP consultants to the peace talks are in detention while 10
have been forcibly disappeared by suspected state agents, in direct
violation the JASIG.
Aside from the Tiamzon couple, NDFP consultants presently detained are
Jaime Soledad, Emeterio Antalan, Leopoldo Caloza, Renante Gamara, Eduardo
Serrano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Allan Jazmines, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano,
Loida Magpatoc, Edgardo Friginal and Tirso Alcantara. The NDFP has
repeatedly asked the GRP to facilitate the release of these consultants in
order for the talks to proceed.
NDFP consultants abducted by suspected state agents and still missing are
Leopoldo Ancheta, Ariel Beloy, Rogelio Calubad, Prudencio Calubid, Gloria
Canaval, Elmer dela Cruz, Federico Intise, Philip Limjoco, Celina Palma
and Leo Velasco.
How can Pres. Benigno Aquino III be truly serious about addressing the
root causes of the armed conflict through peace negotiations with the NDFP
when his administration continues to violate JASIG, wih state security
forces arresting and abducting the very persons that are supposed to work
for the peace talks?
Other consultants have been charged with various trumped-up cases but have
been allowed to post bail in order for them to do their tasks. This is a
laudable precedent that should be applicable to the Tiamzon couple.
By repeatedly and brazenly violating the provisions of the JASIG, the GRP
is sending the message that it is not interested in the peace talks. Pres.
Aquino’s supposed offer of continuing the talks after the arrest of two
more NDFP consultants is pure hypocrisy.# -
On the arrest of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria
The revolution is free to grow in strength and advance – Prof. Sison
March 24, 2014
Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Communist Party of the Philippines
INTERVIEW with Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
By ROSELLE VALERIO
Roselle Valerio (RV): What was your immediate reaction to the arrest of
Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria?
Jose Maria Sison (JMS): I thought immediately that the arrest of these two
NDFP consultants in the peace negotiations is in violation of the Joint
Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). They are holders of
the document of identification under JASIG and are protected from
surveillance, harassment and arrest.
RV: Is it true, as Alex Padilla, the military and other Aquino government
officials claim, that you are on opposite sides with the Tiamzon couple
regarding peace negotiations? That Tiamzon and Austria are “hardliners”
and “war freaks” and that they are at odds with you and the NDFP
JMS: The Tiamzon couple are in support of the peace negotiations. That’s
why they are consultants in the peace negotiations. The claims of high
officials and military officers of the reactionary government that the
Tiamzon couple are at odds with the CPP founding chairman and the NDFP
Negotiating Panel is a malicious intrigue. They should read the official
declarations of the CPP Central Committee supporting the work of the NDFP
Negotiating Panel and its consultants, including myself.
RV: How well do you know Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria?
JMS: I knew them as excellent cadres of the Manila-Rizal regional
committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines in the early 1970s.
Then Benny Tiamzon became secretary of the Eastern Visayas regional
committee of the CPP in the mid-1970s onwards. He was outstanding for his
comprehensive ability in ideology, politics and organization. Wilma was
also outstanding. It is not surprising that they would rise to the highest
central positions in tne CPP.
RV: What do you know of Tiamzon’s involvement and role in the CPP in the
1990s, in the Second Great Rectification Movement?
JMS: Tiamzon played a leading role in the Second Great Rectification
Movement, which started in 1992. This was an educational campaign that
reaffirmed basic revolutionary principles and resulted in the
rectification of serious subjectivist and opportunist errors and the
revitalization and resurgence of the CPP, NPA, the mass base and the
people’s democratic government. The CPP cadres and members held on to the
general line of democratic revolution through protracted people’s war,
while a few rabid opponents became NGO racketeers, yellow labor dealers,
bureaucrats of the reactionary government and even spies and psywar
experts of the military.
RV: What do you know of the Tiamzon couple’s current roles in the CPP and
their activities in the Visayas when they were arrested?
JMS: My reliable source of information regarding the current roles of the
Tiamzons is the CPP official statement published in Ang Bayan. They are
described as senior leaders of the CPP paying close attention to the
plight and rehabilitation of the communities and families victimized by
the supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Visayas.
RV: What will be the impact of the arrest of the Tiamzon couple on the CPP
leadership? The military say that without Tiamzon the CPP will suffer from
a vacuum of leadership.
JMS: Leadership in the CPP is collective. It does not depend on any single
leader no matter how excellent. When I was arrested in 1977, I was the CPP
Central Committee chairman. But the armed revolution continued, grew in
strength and became a major factor in the overthrow of Marcos despite his
boast that he had finished off the CPP upon my arrest.
Like me and Julie when we were arrested in 1977, Benny Tiamzon and Wilma
Austria will be replaced automatically by comrades. To use basketball
parlance, I say that the CPP has a deep bench. The Central Committee is
replenished and further strengthened by the increasing number of national
cadres as well as regional cadres from some 17 regions.
RV: What will be the impact on the New People’s Army and the people’s war?
JMS: The NPA will become even more determined to wage people’s war. The
ground is fertile for people’s war because of the system of oppression and
exploitation that subjects the people to intolerable suffering. The people
desire the overthrow of the rotten system of big compradors and landlords
servile to US imperialism.
RV: What was the status of the NDFP-GPH peace negotiations before the
arrest of the Tiamzon couple? What will now be consequences to the peace
JMS: Before the arrest of the Tiamzon couple, the peace negotiations were
paralyzed by the Aquino regime’s noncompliance with and violations of
existing agreements between the NDFP and the Manila government. The
imprisonment of JASIG-protected consultants has had adverse consequences
to the peace negotiations.
RV: Do you have a message you would like to convey to Benito Tiamzon,
Wilma Austria, and their five companions?
JMS: Luis Jalandoni and the NDFP Negotiating Panel are
working hard to demand their release in accordance with the JASIG. But the
Aquino regime is extremely reactionary, narrow-minded and short- sighted.
I told Marcos in 1977: you have imprisoned me but the revolutionary
movement is free to grow in strength and advance. Imprisonment is an
opportunity to perform an important form of service to the people. By
manifesting their defiance, revolutionary prisoners can inspire the people
to fight more fiercely for their national and social liberation.
RV: What is your message to the Aquino regime?
JMS: Respect the The Hague Joint Declaration and the JASIG and release the
NDFP peace consultants. Respect the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and release the
political prisoners imprisoned on trumped-up common crimes. Thus, there
will be a sound basis for resuming the peace negotiations.
March 23, 2014
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
Arrest of Tiamzon and Austria, a blow to peace negotiations--Karapatan
“A kick in the bucket of peace,” said Karapatan on the illegal arrest of
Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, consultants of the National Democratic
Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to the peace negotiations with the
Government of the Philippines.
“This is another case of the government’s deceit in dealing with the
counterparts in the peace negotiations. The GPH completely ignored
previously signed agreements with the NDFP, especially the Joint Agreement
on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG. This is not the first time. In
fact, there are 12 NDF peace consultants who are in jail because of
trumped up criminal charges. Also, there are 10 NDF consultants who are
victims of enforced disappearance,” said Karapatan secretary general
Palabay added, “The GPH resorts to criminalization of political acts to
cover up arrests conducted illegally, especially of those people who have
clear ideological and political beliefs.”
Meanwhile, Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said the illegal
arrest of Tiamzon and Austria “would not solve the root causes of
rebellion in the country”. “Brandishing the illegal arrest of Tiamson and
Austria like a trophy is insubstantial. Pursuing the peace negotiations
would be more acceptable to the people who are clamouring for genuine
reforms, especially on social-economic spheres. That would be justice.”
Hilao-Enriquez is an independent observer in the peace negotiation between
the GPH and the NDFP.
In a press statement, the NDFP said Wilma Austria is a holder of NDFP
Document of Identification ND978226 under her real name; while Benito
Tiamzon is the holder of NDFP Document of Idenfication ND978227 under the
assumed name "Crising Banaag." The JASIG provides peace consultants ‘safe
conduct and free passage for the duration of the peace negotiations’. ###
March 26, 2014
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
Bounty for Tiamzon and Austria, a one-time bigtime organized racket -
“Mukhang pinagkakakitaan pa ng gobyerno at militar ang iligal na
pag-aresto at pagdukot ng mga peace consultants, mga aktibista at
ordinaryong sibilyan,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay
on the 10-million peso bounty each for the arrest of Benito Tiamzon and
“The Aquino government’s practice of criminalizing political acts to cover
up the illegal arrests of peace consultants, activists and civilians is
legitimized by the highly questionable Joint memorandum 2012-14 of the
Department of National Defense and of Interior and Local Government,”
Karapatan called the reward system as ‘one-time, big-time’ organized
racket of the DILG and the DND and the list, a “secret hit list” akin to
Gloria Arroyo’s Order of Battle.
The said hit-list carries the name of 236 alleged communist leaders with
total reward money of P426 million for their capture. It was the same list
that legitimized the illegal arrest, torture and detention of security
guard Rolly Panesa, whom the military alleged CPP-NPA leader “Benjamin
Mendoza” for P5.6 million. The money was awarded by the AFP to an
The same violation, Karapatan said, was committed against Oligario Sebas,
a farmer from Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, who was also jailed because the
AFP’s claimed he was “Felimon Mendrez”, allegedly a CPP leader in Negros.”
The AFP said Sebas had a P5.2 million bounty on his head and was on the
Also, the said DND-DILG Joint Order was used to legitimize the enforced
disappearance, illegal arrest, and detention of Estelita T. Tacalan, a
60-year old peasant organizer and rural health worker in Misamis Oriental.
Tacalan was reported missing on April 27, 2013 and was surfaced more than
a week later at the Dipolog City Jail.
Tiamzon and Austria, with P10million each for their capture are in the
said list, among other detained and missing peace consultants.
“The reward/bounty system is dangerous because it can be used to justify
the victimization of any person so the military and police may get the
reward money," Palabay said.
In earlier statements, Karapatan lambasted the joint memorandum saying “it
is no different from the secret hit list of Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay
Laya which resulted to thousands of cases of human rights violations
ranging from illegal arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and
Karapatan called for the scrapping of the DND-DILG’s secret hitlist saying
the “AFP should also be held accountable for squandering the people’s
money to violate people rights”. ###
25 March 2014
Stop the empty bragging; we want the “big fish”, rights victims tell BS
“We want the real “big fish” arrested, the real perpetrators of crimes
against humanity,” said victims of human rights violations in reaction to
BS Aquino’s overweening pride in the arrest of communist leaders Benito
Tiamzon and Wilma Austria.
Families of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances
lambasted Malacanang statements that repeatedly called Tiamzon and Austria
as the “big fish.”
“Walang dapat ipagmalaki si Pang. Noynoy Aquino kasi ang hinuli niya ay
yung kaaway NIYA, hindi ang kaaway ng mamamayan,” (Pres. Noynoy Aquino has
nothing to be proud of because he only captured HIS enemy – NOT the
people’s enemy), Desaparecidos secretary general Aya Santos stated. “We
want Jovito Palparan, Joel Reyes and Mario Reyes arrested and jailed. It
is not enough to increase the reward for the so-called “Big Five”. The
question remains, where are the fugitives?”
“The Aquino government is mistaken to think that he can quash the
revolutionary movement by illegally arresting its leaders. Until
injustices, state violence and repression continue, more Filipinos,
especially the oppressed, are ready to join the movement to seek social
justice,” Santos said.
Santos is the daughter of Leo Velasco, missing NDFP consultant, who was
abducted by suspected government forces in 2007. Her father is likewise
protected by JASIG. Velasco remain is still missing to date.
In 2012, Pres. Aquino offered a reward of P2 million each for the arrest
of the so-called Big Five, among them, Palparan, the Reyes brothers, and
former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr..
“We want plunderers, corrupt politicians and butchers punished, not the
people who are part of the peace negotiations with the government. They
are the real enemies of the people. They are the big fish,” said Ernan
Baldomero, Hustisya vice-chairperson.
Ernan is the son of Fernando Baldomero, first victim of extrajudicial
killing under the Aquino government.
“They arrest and detain critics and those who challenge the status quo,
disregarding demands for justice and genuine reforms for the people.”
Baldomero said Pres. Aquino’s stance on the arrest of Tiamzon and Austria,
while letting the fugitives remain scot-free “is sickening”.
“We are appalled by Pres. Aquino’s empty bragging, using Tiamzon and
Austria as trophies while simply shrugging off people’s clamor for the
arrest of Palparan and the Reyeses who committed crimes against the
people,” said Baldomero.
“The government has no right to talk peace if it continues to arrest and
detain the other party to the negotiations. If BS Aquino wants to address
the roots of the armed conflict, the killing, abduction, arrest and
torture of dissenters of the government’s anti-people policies should
end,” Baldomero added.
Groups Hustisya and Desaparecidos joined calls to resume the peace talks.
Aya Santos, Secretary General, Desaparecidos (09088121982, 024354146)
Ernan Baldomero, Vice-Chairperson, Hustisya, (0905-4732505)
NDFP condemns illegal arrest of NDFP Consultants Benito Tiamzon and
NDFP Negotiating Panel
March 22, 2014
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemns in the
strongest terms the illegal arrest of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria by
the Aquino regime’s security forces this afternoon in Carcar, Cebu.
Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria are NDFP Consultants who have fulfilled
and are fulfilling highly significant tasks in the peace negotiations
between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH) and
the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Wilma Austria is holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND978226 under
her real name. She is holder of the Letter of Acknowledgment signed by
then GRP Negotiating Panel Chairman Silvestre H. Bello III which states:
The above named person is entitled to the safety and immunity guarantees
asprovided under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)
for the duration of the peace negotiations. You are hereby required to
facilitate the safe conduct and free passage of the above named person.”
Benito Tiamzon is likewise the holder of NDFP Document of Identification
ND 978227 under the assumed name “Crising Banaag”. He is likewise holder
of a Letter of Acknowledgment signed by then GRP Negotiating Panel
Chairman Silvestre H. Bello III.
The NDFP vigorously demands that Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria be
immediately and unconditionally released.
This latest flagrant violation of the JASIG by the Aquino regime, in
addition to so many other gross violations of the JASIG, most seriously
prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.
AFP hallucinating that arrest of Tiamzons will doom
March 24, 2014
Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) dismissed as “hallucinations”
the claims by the armed forces that the recent arrest of CPP leaders and
peace consultants Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria spells doom for the
armed struggle being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA).
“AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista is self-delusional in believing that NPA
Red fighters and revolutionaries would respond to his calls for them to
surrender to the Aquino regime.
“Over the past three years under the Aquino regime, the people have gained
nothing but failed promises as they experience widespread unemployment,
low wages, high prices, land grabbing and landlessness and overall greater
hardships,” said the CPP.
“In the countryside, in the vain attempt to perpetuate this backward
economic and social system, the AFP continues to wage an unjust war of
suppression against the people, committing widespread abuses of human
rights, violating people’s domiciles, using schools and day-care centers
as barracks, accosting anyone they suspect of involvement in political
activism or self-organizing,” added the CPP.
“The AFP’s brutalities and widespread abuses continue to incite people to
take up arms against the ruling system,” said the CPP. “Thus, on a daily
basis, several hundred people, mostly peasants, enlist with the NPA, the
people’s militia or barrio self-defense units.”
“With such deep-rooted causes for the armed conflict, the Aquino regime
and the AFP are indeed hallucinating if they believe that the Tiamzons’
arrest will cause the armed struggle to dissipate.
“It is also hilarious for them to claim that the arrests will cause the
revolutionary movement to become rudderless and too disorganized to
sustain itself and pursue its objectives.
“The Communist Party of the Philippines has a system of orderly succession
in place. It is comprised of over 150,000 dedicated cadres, with 15
regional committees, scores of subregional leading committees, more than
110 front committees and thousands of sections and branch committees that
lead revolutionary work at various areas and levels,” said the CPP.
“Through its central and regional leadership organs, the CPP will continue
to lead the New People’s Army in waging extensive and intensive guerrilla
warfare in order to further advance the people’s war,” said the CPP.
The CPP reiterated its demand for the immediate release of Benito Tiamzon
and Wilma Austria and condemned their arrest as a violation of the Joint
Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). “The Aquino regime is
concocting one excuse after another to block the release of comrades
Benito and Wilma.”
The CPP pointed out that the Aquino regime’s oft-repeated line that the
NDFP cannot verify its consultants as they were registered under assumed
names does not apply to Wilma Austria who is recognized as a consultant
under her real name. “Now Malacañang is coming up with another excuse
claiming that Ms. Austria had jumped bail in 1989, when that was later
superseded by the recognition it gave her as a peace consultant in 1995
when the JASIG was signed.”
The CPP further condemns the filing of trumped-up criminal charges against
Tiamzon and Austria. “Just like the tactic of the Arroyo regime, the
Aquino regime is coming up with all possible concocted cases of murder and
illegal possession of firearms in order to prolong the incarceration
Tiamzon and Austria.” The CPP pointed out that Tiamzon and Austria where
unarmed when they were accosted by military and police personnel.
CPP condemns arrest of senior leaders investigating
conditions, overseeing rehabilitation in the Visayas
March 23, 2014
Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns in the strongest
terms the reported arrest yesterday of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria.
Tiamzon and Austria are both senior cadres of the CPP Central Committee
and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
in peace negotiations with the government of the Republic of the
At the time of their arrest, both Tiamzon and Austria were performing
tasks and duties assigned to them by the CPP and the NDFP. Up to recently,
both were busy conducting first hand investigation into the conditions of
the working class people in the Visayas region whose lives were devastated
by supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and who continue to suffer from the
Aquino regime’s antipeople, crony-controlled, corrupt and grossly inept
response to the calamity.
Both were closely monitoring the efforts of the New People’s Army (NPA) in
carrying out rehabilitation work in devastated regions. They were
receiving reports from NPA commands about efforts to mobilize Red fighters
to help build communal farms, till the land and mobilize and distribute
seeds and other agricultural resources from the NDFP.
Austria, who has been among the country’s stalwarts in upholding and
bannering the rights of women, is gravely concerned with the situation of
women and children after the calamity, and has been vigorously calling on
all revolutionary forces to work hard to expose their sufferings and
extend all possible effort to alleviate their conditions. She was utterly
indignant at having learned that substantial amounts of relief goods had
rotted at the Aquino government’s warehouses while the people of Tacloban
continue to suffer from lack of food, shelter and income.
Tiamzon, himself, has been actively looking into the widespread
devastation wrought by the storm on the agricultural economy and fishing
communities of Eastern Visayas, Cebu, Panay and Negros. He was personally
looking into studies estimating the actual damage on agriculture and
fisheries to be at P75-80 billion, contrary to the Aquino regime’s grossly
understated estimate of P15 billion which help justify the allocation of
bigger funds to his crony’s big business infrastructure projects.
As peace consultants of the NDFP, the arrest of Tiamzon and Austria
further imperil peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP. The CPP
condemns the Aquino regime for outrightly violating the Joint Agreement on
Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in carrying out the arrest and
detention of Tiamzon and Austria. They are both publicly known figures in
peace negotiations. The NDFP has further identified both Tiamzon and
Austria as holders of documents of identification counter-verified by then
officials of the GPH.
The CPP condemns the Aquino regime and its armed forces for filing a slew
of trumped-up criminal charges against Tiamzon and Austria. The CPP
condemns the media campaign being conducted by Malacañang and the AFP to
demonize Tiamzon and Austria by depicting them as common criminals.
Such effort by the Aquino regime seeks to draw away attention from the
public flak it is getting for its lies, corruption and ineptness,
especially at the heels of its monumental failures in addressing the
urgent demands of the people of the Visayas devastated by the supertyphoon.
The Aquino regime is increasingly isolated from the people because of its
contempt and disregard for the socio-economic conditions of millions of
workers and peasants who suffer from its wrong economic policies that
prioritize the interests of its cronies and its foreign big business
As leaders of the CPP, Tiamzon and Austria are the opposite of the
landlord Aquino and his coterie of corrupt officials. Tiamzon and Austria
are the epitome of simple living. Neither of them own a private home nor
drive their own sportscar. Neither do they play with guns for fun or
personal satisfaction. They are not like Aquino and his officials who
plunder public funds to aggrandize themselves or perpetuate their
Despite their age and health conditions, both Tiamzon and Austria continue
to travel great distances in the rural areas in order to reach the
farthest peasant homes and be among the most downtrodden masses. Unlike
Aquino who was totally clueless of the conditions of the people in the
path of supertyphoon Yolanda, Tiamzon and Austria were among the peasant
masses when the winds ravaged through the Visayas. Unlike Aquino who took
four days to act, Tiamzon and Austria immediately mobilized the CPP’s
forces to carry out relief work and help in the rehabilitation of the
peasant masses who suffered grave devastation of their crops and
The CPP demands the immediate release of Tiamzon and Austria, as well as
all their companions, and the dropping of all criminal charges against
them. The CPP demands that the Aquino regime accord them the right to
counsel and medical attention. Austria has severe asthma, and suffers both
from a serious kidney ailment and spinal bone degeneration secondary to
osteoporosis and is in need of constant medical care.
The CPP, together with the workers, peasants and downtrodden masses and
all their revolutionary forces, deplore the arrest of Tiamzon and Austria.
Their arrest forms part of the general trend of repression under the
Aquino regime. Daily, the landlord Aquino seeks to perpetuate the
oppressive and exploitative system by unleashing his attack dogs, armed
and supported with US military financing, against the peasant masses and
workers, who stand up for their rights and voice their demands.
While the wisdom and guidance of individual leaders is important, the
advance of the revolutionary struggle depends more on the collective
wisdom, determination and organization of the revolutionary masses. The
arrest of Tiamzon and Austria will not stop the main trend of advance of
the people’s war.
It is the Aquino regime’s puppetry, corruption, brutality and mendacity
that teach the Filipino people about the need to wage revolutionary
resistance. They are thus ever determined to advance along the path of
widespread mass struggles and revolutionary armed resistance in order to
achieve national and social liberation.