From the Manila Standard today (Dec 31): Reds pick new chief to replace Tiamzon
Benito and Wilma Tiamzon
THE Communist Party of the Philippines has already installed a new chairman to replace Benito Tiamzon, who was arrested with his wife, Wilma, in Cebu in March, National Democratic Front negotiating panel spokesman Fidel Agcaoili said Tuesday.
“Based on past experiences when the party was quick to respond to changes in leadership, it is logical to presume that there is already a new chairman of the CPP,” Agcaoili said in a phone interview.
“The CPP is an underground organization, so of course it will not be announcing if a plenum has already taken place and who is the new chairman,” he added.
While Agcaoili declined to hazard a guess as to who could have replaced Tiamzon, he ruled out the possibility that it was Vicente Ladlad, who has already gone above-ground.
Right after Tiamzon was arrested in Carcar, Cebu in March, CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison expressed confidence that there will be no leadership vacuum in the guerrilla movement.
“Central Committee members may be imprisoned or killed. But they are automatically replaced by other central committee members,” Sison said.
“There are national cadres and also cadres in regional party committees to replenish vacancies in the central committee,” he added.
Sison recalled how the late President Ferdinand Marcos boasted that the CPP was decimated when the founding chairman was captured in 1977.
“But the CPP, the NPA, the mass organizations and the people’s democratic government continued to grow and become stronger,” Sison said.
The Tiamzons are among the 14 consultants whom the NDF wants released, although not as a precondition to the expected resumption of the formal peace talks in January.
Agcaoili said the other consultants are Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Eduardo Sarmiento, Eduardo Serrano, Alfredo Mapano, Pedro Codaste, Jaime Soledad, Reynante Gamara, Loida Magpatoc, Emeterio Antalan, Leopoldo Caloza and Kennedy Bangidang.
Malacañang, however, stood firm on its position that there should be no conditions to the resumption of the peace talks, and that negotiations should move forward before discussions on releasing consultants could be taken up.
Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said if the peace talks are going well, “many things can happen.”
“There being no preconditions, releases will be appropriately talked about as necessitated by developments on the peace table,” she said.
Sison said the Tiamzon couple are needed for talks on a truce and cooperation agreement with the government.
In an earlier interview, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla insisted that the Tiamzons, arrested for pending frustrated murder and murder cases, are not covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
But NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni insisted that the couple are “NDF consultants who have fulfilled and are fulfilling highly significant tasks in the peace negotiations between the government and the NDF.”
Padilla disputed Jalandoni’s claim.
“The CPP-NPA is well aware of the effects of the failed verification. But they only have themselves to blame for rendering the JASIG inoperative for most of their alleged consultants. If indeed Benito
Tiamzon was listed under an alias, he is no longer covered by the JASIG,” Padilla said.“Wilma Austria, on the other hand, jumped bail when she escaped from detention on Dec. 26, 1989, when there were no peace talks, and six years before the JASIG came into effect. This makes her ineligible for JASIG protection, even assuming she was identified in the JASIG list by her real name,” Padilla added.